‘Cocaine Bear’ Reagan’s worst nightmare meets wildlife conservationist movements



Cocaine Bear completes its mission, being a fun and lighthearted romp, even if it may lack artistic merit.

Clyde Curtis , Staff Reporter

Elizabeth Banks’s incredibly loose film adaptation based on a real event, “Cocaine Bear,” is a hilariously-violent over top comedy starring seasoned actors such as the late Ray Liotta most famously known for his role as Henry Hill in “GoodFellas,”  “The Wire’s” Isiah Whitlock Jr., Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Margot Martindale. 

The first scene of the film really gets the ball rolling. It starts with a coked-up smuggler failing to properly jump out of their plane, hitting his head on the top of the door, killing him and spreading cocaine throughout the forest. 

It then cuts to a shot of the protagonist (the bear) consuming a full brick of uncut cocaine. Most of the movie is from the perspective of two kids that skipped school to paint a waterfall and ending up being chased by the coked-up bear and two cocaine dealers, one played by Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and the other played by Alden Ehrenreich. 

Most of the run time is filled with graphic violence, comedy and an apex predator taking its toll on mankind. Critics could say that the plot lacked depth, but I think it was perfect for what Banks was trying to do. 

The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and while the acting is great, and the special effects are impressive, the plot is not advanced. The movie doesn’t convey any specific point or message. I think this is what makes “Cocaine Bear” so compelling. 

In the current age of cinema, most directors are going for a profound message that makes the viewer reflect. In contrast, “Cocaine Bear” is simply just a fun entertaining film that doesn’t require the viewer to reflect or critically think. 

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Margot Martindale (playing a park ranger) accidentally shoots a teenage delinquent inside the ranger store after attempting to kill the bear. Margot Martindale’s performance is great as always, and even in a serious scene like this it’s set up so well that you can’t help but find it funny.

 This is what “Cocaine Bear” does right, taking a traumatizing event like being chased by a coked-up apex predator, and not taking it seriously. By the end of the film the viewer is unfazed by the intense violence, and completely desensitized to it. 

One wild revelation I had by the end of the movie was that I was rooting for the bear. I think if it was a more serious movie with more character development the viewer would grow more attached to the characters, but by the end me and all my friends were just hoping the bear would find more cocaine and wreak more havoc.

 The scene that made me realize I was rooting for the bear was for sure one of the ending scenes. Ray Liotta is paranoid about the millions of dollars lost in cocaine, and thinks the best way to repay the columbians is to kill the bear and see if they can get any cocaine out of it. I was so worried that the bear was gonna get shot that my heart was pounding and I was praying Ray Liotta would get mauled.

The real “Cocaine Bear” story was much sadder, and less movie worthy. In reality, the 175 pound black bear ingested a large amount of cocaine before quickly overdosing and dying. If you really think about it, it’s tragic that human error caused an animal who would have never been exposed to this drug or been able to comprehend its effect to pass away from it, but this is what makes the film interesting to me. 

They took a tragic real story, and got comedy out of it. In summary, I think the film was great, and accomplished everything it should’ve been, that being said, rest in peace cocaine bear.