Cocaine Bear photo

Illustration by Kevin Bowden

Elizabeth Banks returns to the director’s chair for a fifth time as she tells the story of a bear who goes on a bloody, drug-fueled rampage through a small Georgia town. While the gore may be too much for some, there are enough laughs in the film’s 95-minute runtime to keep audiences entertained. 

“Cocaine Bear” is inspired by a true story of a bear who consumed a duffel bag full of cocaine dropped from a plane by smugglers above a national forest in 1985. While the story takes some creative liberties with historical fact, as the real bear died from an overdose, the production design of the film does a good job recreating the mid-1980s setting, through sets, wardrobe and hair. The synth-heavy soundtrack, composed by Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, calls back to the music from 8-bit action games from the era.

Keri Russell plays Sari, a nurse who is searching for her daughter, Dee Dee, played by Brooklynn Prince. Dee Dee and her friends ditch school to hang out in the woods, where they discover several bags of cocaine and the bloodthirsty bear who ingested it. 

Other cast highlights include Ranger Liz, a park ranger played by Margo Martindale, who is in a secret relationship with Peter, played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who is unrecognizable under prosthetics and enters strange situations as the bear goes on a bloody massacre through the town. 

The film’s standout actors are Russell, who plays the role of a mother for the first time in a movie, and Ray Liotta, who passed away in 2022, as Syd, the drug dealer who is responsible for the bear’s cocaine overdose. 

The movie, at moments, might be a bit “over the top”, but overall it is certainly worth the watch. Plus, it’s an Elizabeth Banks movie, so what else do you expect?

The movie is not breaking ground by any means, but it is at least worth a watch while it runs in theaters or hits streaming platforms.

The film will have you grabbing your ribs as you laugh in one scene, and covering your eyes in the next. If you have laughed at any of the 60+ movies in Elizabeth Banks’ directing, producing or acting catalog, then you should definitely get in line and watch the movie.


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