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“Cocaine Bear”: Is it worth the watch?  

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the new film “Cocaine Bear” was recently released on February 24th, 2023. This dark comedy was released by Universal Pictures and has received mixed reviews. In my opinion, I have mixed feelings about the movie as well.  

A strange assemblage of law enforcement officers, criminals, tourists, and teenagers congregate in a Georgia forest after a 500-pound black bear consumes a notable quantity of cocaine and proceeds on a drug-fueled frenzy. “Cocaine Bear” is rated R for its graphic bloodshed, drug use, and language. 

The production cost for this movie is in the lower range, for mainstream films, at around $30 million. According to Anthony D’Alessandro at Deadline, the Banks film opened to $23 million.  

I viewed this film in a Regal Movie Theater with two friends and an empty theater, resulting in all eyes focused on the film. Without the distraction of many others around, forming an opinion was much easier.  

This film is a meme based on an actual incident. Inspired by the true account of a 1985 plane crash involving a drug runner, the loss of cocaine, and the black bear that consumed it. The true story of the “Cocaine Bear,” a black bear from the United States who consumed about 75lb (34 kg) of lost cocaine, served as a loose inspiration for the movie. 

The title in itself drew out the viewers for the movie. It is blunt and literal, with not much to it. Many have been drawn in to see the low-budget movie.

(From the left) Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), Sari (Keri Russell) and glimpse of Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) in “Cocaine Bear”, directed by Elizabeth Banks.

The cast includes names such as Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Margot Martindale, Ray Liotta, and others. The characters were spread out amongst various storylines throughout the bear-watched woods of Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Park. Instead, the story should’ve been more treacherous and impactful, while holding the humor.

The movie keeps introducing new characters as they experience their time in the forest, rather than showing us the exact moment the title character found and took the drugs. Compared to parts of individuals, less CGI bear parts were displayed. The viewer is left wanting to know what is next, but the gruesome film left me wanting more of the beast.  

By the end of this B-movie, I was unsatisfied. A few chuckles were exchanged, and the humor was recognized. Yet Elizabeth Banks is capable of so much more on the other hand and did not bring it to the table.