Cocaine Bear Was Surprisingly Good


Courtesy of Gamer Braves (fair use)

Cocaine Bear is a fictional story about what could have happened with a cocaine-fueled bear on the loose.

Certain movies are massive pop-cultural moments, like Twilight or Minions: Rise of Gru. I’m calling it now: Cocaine Bear is one of those movies. It was, in all seriousness, one of my favorite movies. In just over an hour and a half, Cocaine Bear packs in gore, hilarity, and surprisingly emotional moments. I did not expect to cry at a movie called Cocaine Bear, yet here we are. Please note that there are spoilers ahead.

The premise is based on real-life events: in December 1985, a 175-pound black bear was reported dead in Fannin County, Georgia, after a cocaine overdose. The cocaine came from Andrew Thornton, a drug smuggler who fell to his death while trying to parachute with too much cocaine strapped to his body. The real bear was known as Pablo Eskobear, and Cocaine Bear is a fictional story about what could have happened with a cocaine-fueled bear on the loose.

The movie ties together three separate plot lines (or four, if you count the bear itself). A young girl, Dee Dee, skipped school with a friend, Henry, and unknowingly came to the same woods as the titular cocaine bear. While Dee Dee and Henry make their way around the forest, Dee Dee’s mother, Sari, enlists the help of a park ranger who’s more focused on flirting with an oblivious wildlife activist than finding a missing child. The movie also follows Daveed and Eddie, two members of a massive cocaine operation, as they attempt to recover the lost cocaine. Along the way, they run into a gang of teenagers who have been terrorizing the national park.

Cocaine Bear is marketed as a horror-comedy, and as someone who isn’t a huge fan of gory movies, I’m happy to report that the movie was not all gore. There are a few pretty gruesome scenes in the middle and towards the end, and as a rule of thumb you can assume it’s not going to be pretty when the bear grabs her next victim. The gore wasn’t super high quality, and the CGI for the bear is pretty awful, too, which lessens the impact of any killing sprees.

There is no shortage of humor, either. There are several cinematic montages of the bear dancing in clouds of cocaine, and at one point the bear does a line of cocaine off of the leg of one of her victims. Both Dee Dee and Henry are hilarious; when they find a brick of cocaine, Henry tries to seem experienced and tells her that she should eat about a tablespoon. They then spit it out. In a way, they’re much more reminiscent of kids in 80s movies, like National Lampoon. They swear freely and nail the whole “every little kid thinks they’re super grown up” schtick.

The one small problem I had with Cocaine Bear was, predictably, the utter lack of logic coming from many of the adults. Obviously, you can’t make a movie about a bear on cocaine if the bear gets killed, but I would’ve liked to see more realistic reactions from certain characters. In particular, it was weird that the detective was completely fine with shooting at Daveed, but decided to sit back and watch what happened when confronted with a bear high off her mind on cocaine. Ultimately, though, it didn’t detract from the viewing experience at all and I do think that laughably dumb reactions a la Home Alone are in line with the movie’s approach.

I think that’s part of Cocaine Bear’s appeal: at its core, it’s a silly movie about a bear who did cocaine and the people she killed. It delivers on its core premise, and does so with humor. It’s the kind of movie that’s so ridiculous it’s good. Cocaine Bear is best enjoyed as an experience, so go to the movie theater with some friends, buy ridiculously overpriced popcorn, take a drink of soda every time the word cocaine is mentioned, and enjoy yourself.