Review – Cocaine Bear is simply unbearable

Collin-Denton Spotlighter’s Nick Rios concludes that “Cocaine Bear” offers little more than a bland interpretation of its premise.

If you told me that I had to watch a full feature length movie based on a bear that ate some cocaine in the 80s, I would probably ask if you were under the influence. Despite that, I would probably be at least a little intrigued to see how ridiculous that movie would play out. 

After actually seeing “Cocaine Bear” though, I am more than a little underwhelmed with the product. If, after first seeing the trailer, you wondered how the scriptwriters were going to make an entire film based on an urban legend-style true story about a bear who ate some quantity of cocaine one day, I’m here to tell you that they really didn’t. 

Filled to the brim with random side characters and poor acting, I found myself losing track of the all-filler plot. The real crime of it all is that the movie is painfully unfunny. It often felt like a modern “Saturday Night Live” sketch stretched out to over an hour and thirty minutes, with weird character choices and long roundabout ways of delivering mediocre jokes. 

I’m not kidding when I say “Cocaine Bear” has an overabundance of characters. The movie introduces a range of fodder to make a couple “Eek, it’s a bear! That’s not just any bear that’s a bear doing cocaine,” jokes before the bear kills them in over-the-top, gore-fueled ways. 

Along with the requisite bear jokes, there’s also the humor you expect from movies like this. The typical mixture of genital jokes, gross-out humor and just plain people swearing that always highlights these flicks. 

Continuing with that cookie cutter theme, there’s also a subplot with kids, as is apparently necessary for every piece of retro 80’s media to have post-Stranger Things. Unfortunately, this so happens to be the most shoe-horned inclusion I’ve seen in any recent movie, not exactly warranting the use of even more castmembers.

Try to forget all about those random characters that most viewers, and apparently the scriptwriters, don’t particularly care about for a minute though. Instead, let’s talk about the bear. It’s a big CGI bear that rampages between the cringey dialogue and weird subplots. 

A startling lack of practical effects were employed to make the bear a bit more grounded, making the parts where the movie tries to be tense or scary laughable. The bear stays as a CGI creation, even during the moments when it seemed well within movie magic to at least try and make it more realistic. Would it have been so hard to make a bear paw from practical effects or splice in footage of a real bear? If done correctly, that could have even gone a long way towards adding some more humor to the fairly bland movie as well. 

You do get a fair amount of bear action for your buck at least, but the character moments and plots are so boilerplate that anytime the bear isn’t on screen, you’ll be wishing it was a different movie.  

The ending actually tries to make you feel emotions too, which is probably when the movie got real laughs out of me. It roughly tries to transition into some kind of 80s “Goonies” movie in the last half hour after being a crude stoner comedy for the rest of the earlier runtime. 

All in all, if you think a bear doing cocaine is so hilarious that you’d like to hear people exclaim about it for an entire movie, you might get something out of this. Otherwise, you’ll probably find “Cocaine Bear” rather unbearable.

Spotlight Score: 2/10


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