“Cocaine Bear”


Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10)

From the film’s title, you can probably guess that this is a one-joke movie, a premise borne out in the trailer and in the picture itself. But, frankly, who cares? This delightfully campy dark comedy arguably has a few pacing and editing issues, as well as some bits that fall a little flat, but it’s generally a filling smorgasbord of over-the-top, goofy, gory fun. Director Elizabeth Banks’s third feature outing definitely won’t appeal to everyone because of its rampant silliness and its gratuitous shock value that’s more than a fitting homage to the cheesy, tacky 1980s slasher movies reminiscent of the time frame in which this fact-based true story is based. In essence, the premise is a simple one: a plane carrying an enormous stash of the powdery white substance crashes in the Chattahoochee National Forest, depositing its cargo within reach of a CGI-generated black bear who immediately becomes hooked on this find and embarks on an out-of-control murderous rampage, taking down an array of characters who have varying connections to the locale, the payload or other related considerations. And, yes, for what it’s worth, this soon becomes a one-note narrative, but the note is played differently every time it’s struck, with funny little twists and ever-more grisly (but creatively hilarious) imagery thrown in for good measure, the kind of laughs typical of cult classics and the fare of midnight shows. This offering also features fine performances by the likes of Margot Martindale, Christian Convery and the late Ray Liotta in his final screen portrayal, all of whom were good sports in recognizing the high-camp factor of this material. Look, let’s face it, drugs are often an inherently funny source of gut-busting humor (more so here literally than in many other cinematic vehicles), so just go with it on that level rather than trying to assess it otherwise – and running the risk of succumbing to the logic contained in the screeds of tiresome, droll, stick-in-the-mud naysayers (as many allegedly esteemed critics have already written about in their dour, dull, joyless, overly somber evaluations). Enjoy this one in the kitschy spirit in which it was intended – and ignore anyone who screams “just say no.”