Cocaine Bear, Some new theories have been revealed about the which suggests that it is, in fact, a movie.
Cocaine Bear is, above all, a title and a concept, and the film clearly understands this. Elizabeth Banks’ action-comedy-thriller is loosely based on a 1985 incident in which an American black bear ingested a large amount of cocaine and was later discovered dead. The film concocts a fanciful story — a series of stories, really — about what might happen if an enormous bear went on a savage, indestructible, coke-fueled rampage through the Georgia woods.
Cocaine Bear/imge crdits/ social media
It also borrows from its era, not only in the anti-drug PSAs that open the film, but also in pace and style. The mid-’80s were the pinnacle of Spielbergian children’s adventures, but they were also the pinnacle of a particularly baggy and brutal slasher filmmaking period. Cocaine Bear is contaminated with both. It has an ambling, gory insouciance that would be more repulsive if the film wasn’t called Cocaine Bear.
In addition, the film makes no attempt to explain itself. It all starts with Matthew Rhys, who plays drug dealer Andrew Thornton (who apparently was a real person), cackling maniacally to himself (why?) while karate-kicking bags of cocaine (why?) out of a careening, pilotless plane (why?).
Then he fastens his parachute, puts on his sunglasses, kisses the empty cockpit goodbye, and falls lifelessly into the clouds. That is the final appearance of Matthew Rhys in this film.
Banks and writer Jimmy Warden subtly leave us wondering who will survive and who will not by including one of the cast’s bigger names in the opening scene. Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery), the two kids who skip school to paint waterfalls, are presumed safe… Do they, however? What about Dee Dee’s overworked nurse mother (Keri Russell), who sets out to track them down? Or Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), one of the two low-level hoodlums.
and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), who have been sent by their boss (Ray Liotta) to find the missing cocaine in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest? You’d think they’d be goners, but the film devotes an unusual amount of time to them. We spend a lot of time learning about their lives; when we meet sad-sack widower and single-dad Eddie for the first time, he’s in a dive bar, drowning his sorrows in a plate of penne.
Cocaine Bear’s dramatis personae borders on Altmanian — the beast is first seen chasing and shredding a hiking tourist couple before being distracted by a butterfly.
Then it’s one gnarly melee and severed limb after another, usually with someone picking up or waving around a stray brick of cocaine and the bear appearing almost magically. You’ve come to the wrong theatre if you’re looking for a realistic portrayal of the effects of cocaine.
At times, the bear can sneak up on our characters like a threatening woodland menace. It can be quite energetic at times. It occasionally falls on them and knocks them out. Warden’s script isn’t complicated, but it’s surprisingly quotable. ( “You’re all right. Bears are unable to climb trees.” “Of course they can!” “So, what brings you here?”) In addition, the film is surprisingly atmospheric. It wanders aimlessly, like the characters, but by the end, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Banks and company appear to have set out to make a cult film on purpose. That is typically a backwards approach. Cult films gain cult status over time; they do not start out that way. They must first fail and then be reclaimed by us through chance discovery, preferably by popping in a dusty VHS cassette or turning on a late show.
However, we live in a hyper-accelerated, echo-chamber era. VHS is a thing of the past, as is the late show, and perhaps even the concept of discovery itself. Nowadays, you must declare your cult from the start. To that end, Cocaine Bear is exactly what it needs to be. If there were any
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