I have been looking forward to seeing Cocaine Bear from the moment I first heard the title a few months ago. Ever since, I have been counting down the days until it opened and begging people to go see it with me. However, when I finally saw it this past weekend, it did not live up to the hype. In fact, it was actually quite boring.
The basic premise of the movie is that a whole lot of cocaine is dropped into a park in Georgia, a bear eats it, and chaos ensues. However, much to my surprise and annoyance, the movie is not all about the bear as the title would lead one to believe. Instead, the writers tried to create a large ensemble cast of characters with nuanced backstories who will all get killed by the bear at some point in the movie. As a result, more of the movie’s 95-minute run time is spent establishing characters than showing bear-focused action sequences. The ratio of cocaine-bear murders to character development left a lot to be desired.
Despite all of the focus on character development, most of the characters aren’t that interesting. The main characters of the movie seem to be Henry (Christian Convery) and Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), two children who skip school to “paint the falls” (I have literally no idea what that means even after watching the entire movie) and end up getting chased by the bear. They also try to eat spoonfuls of cocaine at one point. And that’s pretty much all they do. Kerri Russell is so forgettable as Dee Dee’s mother that I didn’t even know her character was named Sari until the credits. O’Shea Jackson Jr and Alden Ehrenreich have one of the most uninteresting character arcs I have ever seen as drug dealers. Daveed and Eddie, and Isiah Whitlock Jr’s character, Bob, doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose other than to eat up some of the movie’s run time. Margo Martindale and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are both funny as park ranger Liz, and animal rights activist Peter. It’s just a shame that both of their characters die pretty early in the movie. The movie also introduces a strange number of characters in great detail who get killed almost immediately. These include a paramedic duo who had some wasted comedic potential, a gang of teenage boys who hang out in the park and stab hikers for no apparent reason, and a Swedish couple who I literally couldn’t care less about.
Another issue with the movie is that most of the deaths in the movie are pretty predictable. In a movie about a bear on cocaine, it seems safe to assume that there will be some bonkers bear-related deaths. Well, you would assume wrong. To be fair, there are some absolutely wild murders, but in a movie about a bear on cocaine, two of the deaths should not be because people get shot. In my opinion, all deaths in the movie should be caused by the bear, not drug-related violence.
Overall, the movie’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the dialogue is spent reestablishing the fact that the bear loves cocaine. Some memorable quotes from the movie include “A bear it f*cking did cocaine. A bear did cocaine!”, “What the f*ck is wrong with that bear?”, and “It [the bear] was f*cked!” This leads to my next point: the writers just decided that saying “f*ck” is funny and ran with it. The number of f-bombs dropped in this movie is egregious, at best, as almost every line is punctuated with one. Additionally, pretty much the only joke (other than that a bear is on cocaine, which they will not let you forget) is having kids swear. Christian Convery, a very innocent looking child, drops more than his fair share of f-bombs throughout the movie. The contrast between the innocent looking child and the profanity is an easy joke, but it gets old very fast.
The movie’s best scene comes about halfway through when the bear chases an ambulance. Spoiler alert: the three characters in the ambulance die in dramatic fashions. The scene is the closest to the Cocaine Bear I thought I had bought a ticket to. It is well paced and set to fitting music. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is just over the top and fun. I want to see a full movie like this scene, not just a few glorious minutes in between Sari talking about being a mother and Eddie having an emotional crisis.
Looking back, I’m not sure what I was expecting from Cocaine Bear. When you think about it, there’s not a ton of substance to the premise. A bear does cocaine and that’s it. It’s a funny premise mainly because the idea of a bear on cocaine is hilarious, but when that’s dragged out into a 95-minute movie, it’s bound to disappoint. The writers attempted to give the movie a plot and some depth, but, in the end, all I wanted was a movie about a bear on cocaine.