As you might suppose, Cocaine Bear is about a bear on high on cocaine. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Cocaine Bear stars Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., and Alden Ehrenreich as various human characters who get in the way of the audience enjoying the spectacle of a coked-up black bear.
A movie like Cocaine Bear needs to be fun and as off the rails as possible. Audiences are not expecting deep characters or profound themes, and if the film satisfies the more prurient and ridiculous expectations, then it has done its job. By that metric, Cocaine Bear is a mixed bag.
One sequence involving an ambulance and a team of paramedics midway through the movie is absolutely fantastic. Featuring Scott Seiss, Kahyun Kim, and esteemed character actress Margo Martindale, it is all of the things audiences want in a movie called Cocaine Bear. All of the camp, all of the outlandishness, all of the possibilities offered by a bear, who somehow gains superpowers because she’s on cocaine, are stuffed into this sequence.
If the entire movie was that sequence, then I’d give it the highest recommendation that Cocaine Bear could hope for.
But the problem is that too much of the movie is about some boring human characters, a couple of whom don’t belong in a movie about a bear on blow. Alden Ehrenreich’s character is mourning the loss of his wife, and there’s a good percentage of screen time devoted to that character moping. A short character arc with Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as a detective who must care for a dog is a bit of a downer as well. These characters and arcs are not consistent with the tone that this movie needs to strike.
Aside from the few characters who feel like they’re in the wrong movie, the majority of the cast understood Cocaine Bear’s assignment and came to play. The film is gruesome and fun, and I think a lot of people are going to have a great time with Cocaine Bear.