You have to admire a movie for knowing exactly what it is and then executing that vision – no matter how demented – into reality.
For your consideration I submit, “Cocaine Bear.”
In perhaps the greatest “what you see is what you get” title since “Snakes on a Plane,” “Cocaine Bear” envisions a coked-up black bear going on a murderous rampage in the woods of Georgia.
“Cocaine Bear” is, believe it or not, based on a true story. In 1985, a drug smuggler dropped millions of dollars of cocaine from a plane into the wilderness. When authorities found the real cocaine bear, it had ingested a large amount of the drug, taken about 10 steps and died.
The fictional cocaine bear takes the drugs and is imbued with superhuman (super-bear?) strength and bloodlust.
Naturally, this is all very silly, but director Elizabeth Banks knows exactly what she is doing as she strikes almost the perfect balance between comedy and horror.
The emotional center of this movie, such as it is, is professionally carried out by Keri Russell who plays a mother who ventures into the woods in search of her daughter (Brooklynn Prince) and her friend (Christian Convery) who skip school to go on a nature hike.
Various other hikers, rangers, cops and criminals sent into the grinder as potential bear-chow are played by a talented, and game, cast that includes Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Also of note is Ray Liotta who plays drug-boss Syd who will stop at nothing to get his cocaine back from that bear. The venerable actor passed away after completion of the film and while I’m sure he never intended “Cocaine Bear” to be his final film, he was winningly in on the joke and the movie is dedicated to his memory.
While horror and comedy make for a fun combo, striking the right balance can be tough as hilarious circumstances and grisly (pun intended) violence are tough to play off of each other.
Fortunately, we are in Banks’ capable hands as she makes sure we laugh as often as we are horrified (which happens quite often on both counts).
Look, there’s no mystery here. If you want to see a cocaine-fueled bear rip people to shreds in a movie that winkingly revels in its ridiculous premise, then “Cocaine Bear” delivers on its title. If not, then move along.
Truth-in-advertising is such a rare thing, we should celebrate it every chance we get.
“Cocaine Bear” is rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout.