Cocaine Bear Review: Guess what you need copious amounts of to sit through this film?

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulFeb 27, 2023 | 16:51

Cocaine Bear Review: Guess what you need copious amounts of to sit through this film?

It seems the titular character isn’t the only one in dire need of a powdery pick-me-up to keep the film going. 

If you're looking for a gripping story that combines a daring drug heist, a missing child and a wild bear on a cocaine-fuelled rampage, I’d suggest you look elsewhere. Elizabeth Banks’s Cocaine Bear feels like nothing but a fever dream.


Based on the true events of 1985, Cocaine Bear follows the journey of a cross-border drug smuggle gone wrong in the Appalachian Mountains, leaving behind multiple backpacks filled with pounds of cocaine. Enter our unlikely hero, a black bear who discovers the stash and decides to indulge herself a little. Cue the chaos.

But this is no ordinary bear. No, this bear is a force to be reckoned with as multiple characters make it a point to assert at various instances. We get it, the bear is well and truly “F***ED”. As our unfriendly neighbourhood bear tears through the hillside with all the energy and aggression of, well, a wild animal on a massive cocaine high, she wreaks havoc on the locals population.

From a missing child in the woods, to a gang of insolent teenagers, to drug dealers looking to make a few quick bucks; the series of unfortunate mishaps felt like The Hangover, but with fur, claws and a whole lot of cocaine, only for us to realise that Mike Tyson made up for all of the above as well.

What it lacks in any semblance of cohesive dialogue, the film makes up for its gratuitous (albeit creative) depictions of violence. Then again, what else does one expect from when you cross an apex predator with a Schedule I stimulant. Nothing short of a ruthless killing machine with an insatiable thirst for more of course. 


As it left a gory trail of destruction in its wake the hulking, frenzied beast with its bloodshot eyes and frosty snout was a force to be reckoned with. That is until it passed out for a quick power nap.

There's something inherently hilarious about a cocaine-fuelled bear leaving a few severed limbs in its rampage that seems to have captured the imaginations of Banks and Universal Studios, almost like a B-grade film come to life. Oh wait.

Starring the entire cast of FX’s The Americans, Mitch from Modern Family, Ice Cube’s son, Han Solo and the late Ray Liotta in his final onscreen role, Cocaine Bear is a wild ride from start to finish, with enough absurdity and insanity to keep you laughing (or cringing) the whole way through.

In the end, the Cocaine Bear incident may have started out as a bizarre and tragic event, but its big screen adaptation ultimately became a worthy spiritual successor to The Revenant (2016).

And who knows? Maybe there's a lesson in there for all of us. Maybe it's that even when things seem hopeless, we can still find a way to come out on top. Or maybe just do cocaine if you want to survive (don't, please). Either way, it's a story that's sure to go down in the annals of wildlife history, enough to give Richard Attenborough a (cocaine-induced) heart attack.


Cocaine Bear is in fact saving cinema. People are getting up off their OTT-binging butts and finally going to the movies once more. And if drugged out animals, blue tribal aliens and Tom Cruise is what it takes, then I’d be needing a very different kind of coke with my popcorn please. 

Last updated: February 27, 2023 | 17:42
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