Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Cocaine Bear (2023)


RATED R  1hr35min

Starring Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich & O'Shea Jackson Jr.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

    Oh dear sweet Baby Cthulhu, what in the hell did I just watch?  Well, I'll tell you...I just watched a black bear do a line of coke off of a leg that she just severed from a wildlife specialist that was hiding up a tree. Unfortunately for him, he was covered in cocaine, which the bear was addicted to. I watched that same bear chase down and ambulance and mutilate the crew and patient to the tune of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough".

    COCAINE BEAR is exactly what you think it is, and also far better than you are probably expecting it to be.  I've heard lots of comparisons to SNAKES ON A PLANE, which I really don't understand. Sure they're both killer animal flicks based on a ridiculous premise...SNAKES ON A PLANE being about poisonous serpents being unleased on an airliner to kill a key witness to a murder.  I mean, honestly there's not an easier way to silence someone?  You're going to essentially try and take down a whole BOEING 747 to get one guy?  That seems horrible inefficient to me...also horribly risky.  COCAINE BEAR on the other hand is about a bear that ingests a shitload of cocaine that has been tossed out of an airplane by drug runners with the intent of collecting it afterwards.  I mean...bother involve planes. Both involve deadly animals. Lots of people die in both. Other than that....I got nothin'.

    There are quite a few excellent performances in his one. First and foremost, Aaron Holiday was fantastic as young punk Stache. Clearly meant as comedy relief counterpart to Alden Ehrenreich's Eddie, he's got great comedic timing and more than once reminded me of Dax Shepard.  Keep your eye on this kid, I think he's got a bright future. Margo Martindale is hilarious as Ranger Liz, an overly horny and slightly incompetent park ranger. Finally, Christian Convery as Henry, best friend to Dee Dee...they are two 10 - 12 year old kids who are in the forest while playing hookie from school and have an encounter with the titular beast. Finally, the great Ray Liotta, who we sadly lost in 2022, gives his final performance as Syd White, whose job it was to retrieve the cocaine.

Speaking of excellence, Elizabeth Banks absolutely nailed the direction of this film, perfectly balancing the comedy and gore. She also does a fantastic job of recreating the 80's without overt product placement or bashing you over the head with pop-culture references.  It is a film that just happens to take place in that time period, but it doesn't define the film.  This could just as easily take place in 2023 with a few minor tweaks.

This is one hell of a fun ride. And while nobody delivered a line that was close to "I have had it with this motherfucking bear on motherfucking cocaine!", it still has some great one liners, some hilariously ridiculous set pieces and the above mentioned solid performances. I think COCAINE BEAR is going to be part of the cinematic lexicon from here on out. 

Alllllrighty....let's run the Midnight Cinephile Tallies!

BLOOD & GORE:   Is there gore?  Does a bear do cocaine in the woods?  I think we both know the answer to this!  The gore and effects are very well done and on the plus side, I would say that 95% of the gore is practical effects!  WOOT!

ALIENS, MONSTERS & MADMEN:  For the price of admission, you get one cocaine addicted black bear with a taste for human!  Yum!

T&A:  The closest your going to get to some T&A in this one is Margo Martindale's butt cheek showing through her pants after her first encounter with the bear.  There's also some flesh missing off ties in with the blood & gore....

FINAL THOUGHTS:   This flick is just plain fun. It reminds me of the heyday of nature run amok films, with a few winks and nods to the genre.  This ain't your Daddy's killer bear flick, that's for sure!

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