After a massive black bear eats a significant amount of cocaine, an oddball gathering of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converge in a Georgia forest.

Inspired by a true story, Cocaine Bear is directed by Elizabeth Banks. It’s not your average drug-fueled action movie, but its absurdist premise points to a decent box office estimate.

The Story

It’s a rare situation nowadays when a film’s premise is so genuinely compelling that it makes the audience want to see it in theaters. It happened with Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, but it’s also happened with “Violent Night” and “M3GAN.”

When Cocaine Bear first opened last weekend, a viral trailer for the film went viral online, sparking a wave of social media engagement that spawned plenty of memes. And, despite being a wildly R-rated film, its absurdist premise pushed it to a decent box office estimate.

As a matter of fact, it clawed its way to a $23.1 million opening weekend, beating out the religious film Jesus Revolution, which was expected to take in $15 to $17 million. It’s not expected to compete with holdover Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which debuted to a franchise-best $120 million over Presidents Day weekend.

And, while the baffling story of a drug-crazed bear isn’t groundbreaking, Banks’ wild satire of 80s slasher films is a rollicking fun time from start to finish. This is cinema as spectacle, and it’s a welcome antidote to the mindless doom-scrollers that pad the winter movie slate.

The Cast

In Cocaine Bear, an unlikely band of cops, criminals, tourists and teenagers converge on a Georgia forest where an unnaturally large black bear suddenly rampages through the forest after ingesting cocaine. The humans must then outlast the creature or face fatal consequences.

The film is based on a real-life story from 1985. It involved a drug runner who dropped cocaine from a plane into Chattahoochee National Forest, and a bear that consumed it.

Whit Hiler and Griffin VanMeter stars as an oddball team of police officers, criminals, tourists and teenagers who converge on the forest where the bear is hiding. Inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the bear that ate it, director Elizabeth Banks tells a wild dark comedy about an oddball group of people thrown together in a dangerous situation.

The story begins in 1985, when a drug runner, Andrew Thornton (Matt Rhys), dropped cocaine from a plane. He later died in a parachuting accident.

The Trailer

A bear ingests cocaine and goes on a murderous rampage in this new trailer for Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear. The film is loosely inspired by a real-life story about a black bear that inhaled an undetermined amount of cocaine and killed several people.

This can-you-believe-it-if-you-try-to-make-out-that-is-what-it-looks-like comedy isn’t for everyone, but its absurdist premises could work in a box office sense. After all, Universal has a history of making bizarre horror-comedies that perform well both critically and at the box office.

The studio’s last outing, the PG-13 movie M3GAN, went on to be one of the biggest surprise hits of 2023. If the company can follow up with similarly outrageous horror-comedies like Cocaine Bear, it could prove to be a strong indicator that a new crop of campy horror-comedies will have major appeal.

On her way to present the Visual Effects category at Sunday night’s Oscars, director Elizabeth Banks nearly tripped over her dress and was followed by a person wearing a bear costume. She joked that if she hadn’t used special effects, the bear in her movie would look just like the bear in this video.

The Rating

A chemically-enhanced black bear eats cocaine and goes on a harrowing rampage through a Georgia forest. Elizabeth Banks’ loose adaptation of a real story has points to it, but the film is incredibly violent and a little too long for its own good.

Cocaine Bear mashes up Quentin Tarantino bloodfests, Sam Raimi’s scare tactics and the Coen brothers’ absurdity. The bear will sneak up behind its victims, race silently, leap in slo-mo, luxuriate under a dust cloud of cocaine, behead enemies, climb trees and walk on its hind legs, snarling.

Despite its bloody, over-the-top violence, Cocaine Bear doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also tries to say something about the demonization of drugs, but it’s ham-fisted and doesn’t have a strong point to make. It’s a fun and entertaining movie that audiences will appreciate, but one that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. It may be a hit at the box office, but it’s not one that you will want to watch repeatedly.

By Macpie

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