If you're currently on the lookout for something new in the thriller/comedy genre, look no further than 'Cocaine Bear'. While I can easily say the film is far from perfect, I do still feel that one can go into this and just have fun with it. All this really ends up being is a modern B movie, and should not be looked at as anything much more than that. This is a bear equivalent to 'Eight-Legged Freaks' or any number of shark movies they need to take a breather on one of these days.
As far as the "true story" goes - one day a black bear ingested a bunch of cocaine, and that's about the extent of it, as far as I can tell. All this did was throw meat into the raging bear's path. The real story is... well, it's really just sad, as the poor bear died after overdosing. However, I can see why the idea of creating a semi-horror movie about a crazed, cocaine-addicted bear can come to mind fairly easily after reading a short article about what really happened. It all starts sometime in 1985 when famed drug smuggler, Andrew C. Thornton II (Matthew Rhys) drops a shipment of cocaine from his plane to lighten the load before parachuting.
Soon enough, a bag of coke is found by a black bear, who ingests it and becomes highly aggressive, and ready to take out anyone standing in its way of looking for more (of which there is now a lot, scattered around the area). Meanwhile, a local detective named Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) who finds out about the lost coke and assumes that it's probably from St. Louis kingpin, Syd White (Ray Liotta). So the "primary" situation, as I might call it, mostly involves Syd looking for his lost goods through his "fixer", Daveed (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) and Daveed's recently heartbroken friend, Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich). Meanwhile, Bob is trying to make an interception to take them down. Little do either know what's lurking in the woods, however.
Our secondary story (although one could easily argue this is more the primary) involves middle schoolers Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery) who decide to ditch school one day in order to paint a picture of the local waterfalls. Both are eventually found by the bear, and Dee Dee ends up missing as a result, leaving a fretful mother, Sari (Keri Russell) to go searching for her along with Henry. Sure enough, it's an eventuality that everything ends up crossing paths, but the main focus for the audience can be equated to your average 'Friday the 13th' film; "Where is that monster, what's it gonna do next, and how gruesome is the kill gonna be".
I have to admit that I am quite impressed with Elizabeth Banks' directorial work here. I can't speak to anything she's done before this, but if I'm blunt, there's not a whole lot of her previous directorial work that jumps out at me as something I really want to see. However, as soon as I saw the trailer for this, I knew I was 100% in for it. I do love when a trailer comes along to offer up a heavy dose of comedy within something that's otherwise horrific. I'm almost always in for these kinds of movies. Realizing that Banks directed it, however, made me even more curious.
I do not know Banks at all, but from what I've gathered from what I have seen her in, I wouldn't have thought that a comedy-fuelled gore-fest was really in her wheelhouse. Who'd have thought I'd be proven wrong about that? I'd love to see her do more stuff like this and make a name for herself in this B movie genre. 'Cocaine Bear' gave me quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, and it's all padded with rather brutal bear attacks that I'm frankly surprised got as gorey as they did. Add a whole bunch of one-liners to it, and here we have one of the most fun movies of the year so far for something in the R-rated comedy/horror/thriller category.
I may go a little bit against the grain on this one, as I do have a bit of a bias for movies like this. Comedy/horror and comedy/thriller are by far my favourite subgenres, and I love a movie that delivers the laughs as well as the gore while taking no part of itself seriously. While the real story of the cocaine bear does end sadly, it managed to provide us with this movie that almost portrays a sort of Jason-like revenge from the bear for introducing it to such a terrible substance for it. Perhaps that's reading too much into it, however, and at the end of the day, one should probably just take this for the fun thrill ride that it is, and not much more.