Cocaine Bear (2023) Review – a glorious, gory good time

By Marc Miller
Published: February 24, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
Cocaine Bear (2023) Review
Keri Russell evading a bear in Cocaine Bear (Image Credit to Universal Pictures)


There’s life before Cocaine Bear and after. You may feel dumber going out than in, but the greatest cocaine-infused bear horror B-movie ever made is a glorious, gory good time.

What’s next? Ecstacy Elephant? The Heroin Hyena? Besides failing to add some alliteration, the pure reliance on its absurdity proves Hollywood’s lack of original ideas these days when a filmmaking team can make a B-horror movie that feels mediocre yet original. That’s the genius of Cocaine Bear, a low-rent schlockfest that’s the most modest, eye-rolling, ridiculous, stupid, inarticulate, steaming piece of garbage ever made.

But goddamn, did I enjoyed it.

Cocaine Bear Review and Plot Summary

Yes, there is a plot worth (maybe?) discussing when it comes to Cocaine Bear. You have an out-of-his-mind aerial drug mule (Matthew Rhys) who starts to toss dozens of red duffle bags full of cocaine into the Blood Mountain area deep into a Georgia forest. As the peach state skies begin to snowfall kilos of the good stuff dusting the cypress and red maples, a 500-pound black bear consumes fourteen million dollars’ worth. That’s terrible news for a group of unfortunate forest dwellers, hikers, nature enthusiasts, police officers, park rangers, drug smugglers, hoodlums, and children in the area.

The drugs are run by a bluegrass kingpin Syd (Ray Liotta). He sends his depressed and lonesome son, Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), and associate Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) to recover their product. A detective (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) enters the fray who has been after Syd for years.

They aren’t alone in the woods. You also have a couple of kids who cut school. So a forest ranger (Margo Martindale), with the eye of her affection (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), helps a mother (Keri Russell) search for them. Of course, again, they all cross paths with a bear reacting poorly to all that free nose candy.

Elizabeth Banks directed Cocaine Bear; her third feature behind the camera is a bloody disgusting, exhilarating dark comedy. It’s an odd choice for a director’s third film. At this point, a director’s third time behind the camera usually produces a picture by a filmmaker at the top of their craft. Spielberg had Jaws. Affleck had Argo. Hell, Peter Farrelly’s comedy masterpiece There’s Something About Mary was his third time out. Yet, Banks has made a film that’s probably the most significant drug-induced wildlife horror ever made. So, no judgment here. Think of this as Banks’s Splash; there’s nothing wrong with that.

Written by The Babysitter scribe Jimmy Warden, Cocaine Bear is loosely inspired by a black bear that ate seventy-five pounds of the stuff. That’s a value of over two million dollars. This “Pablo Escobear” was discovered by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (no word yet if Will Trent was involved) and now sits in a mall in stuffed Kentucky. Ward wrote a monster in a house horror B movie that never takes itself too seriously. You can stick your nose up at the movie all you want, but how can you not marvel at the simplicity of the idea and the glorious, gory good times Banks and Warden wish to give their audience?

Is Cocaine Bear a good movie?

The performances are what they are. You may find it strange that Ehrenreich is starring in a film produced by the Lord brothers. (He reportedly was the one that had them removed on the colossal misfire Solo: A Star Wars Story).

The cast revels in the mediocre material that may make you feel dumber going out than in. Yet, Cocaine Bear walks to the beat of its bizarre, tachycardic heart. Banks’ dark horror action comedy never fails to entertain because it never claims to be anything it’s not.

What did you think of Cocaine Bear? Comment below.

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