Never in my life did I think I would watch a film like COCAINE BEAR. Or praise it as the best studio film in years. Let me qualify that statement. The title alone lends itself to a feeling of “What choices in life am I making that lead me here?” It is an utterly silly premise that conjures images of the SYFY Channel and Asylum Films. BUT, this is neither. This is a Universal Picture with a respectable cast and directed by an A-list actress/director. Wait… really? Yes. And as silly as it is, this is one of the most entertaining and original films put out by a major studio in years.
The plot is simple. A drug smuggler, played by Matthew Rhys, dumps a grip of cocaine out of his plane, over the national forest in Chattahoochee. Of course, the NOT small amount of drugs winds up on the news and everyone wants to get their hands on some easy money (the fact that this plot detail rings true is an interesting commentary all its own). In any case, everyone wants to find it for different reasons, including a bear that is so coked up that it is on a rampage. Really that’s all the set up there is.
That being said, it is a fun set up. The characters that wander in are not deep or nuanced, but they don’t have to be. They are entertaining. Ray Liotta turns in his final performance as Syd, the drug lord whose coke needs to be retrieved by his son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich, young Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story) and his buddy Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr., Straight Outta Compton, Godzilla). Margo Martindale (Justified) as Park Ranger Liz and 90’s TV crush Keri Russell (Felicity) as a mom looking for her school ditching teen Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince). This isn’t even all the characters you will be introduced to but their characters only exist to heighten the fun so don’t worry. You won’t need a program to keep track.
All this and directed by Elizabeth Banks, who is always great to watch in front of or behind the camera (No I’m not counting that one debacle from 2019, not even Spielberg is perfect).
So if the film is just so silly, why bother? Because damnit! This film is a great time. It is an absurd and original idea and that is sorely lacking from Hollywood these days. This is a film like Snakes on a Plane or Deathstalker II. Meaning that, it knows it’s a silly film and it enjoys that status with respect rather than shame. And frankly, we need more brain candy like this rather than commercials for I.P.s like we’ve been stuck with for over a decade. I am tired of super hero movies and other nostalgia porn. Give me something original and fun that I can enjoy with a group or alone. This is that movie. Could it have been more? Sure, but it could have been less. It could have been a $200,000,000 commercial for a Disney or Warner Brothers property, when all we want is to escape into some fun. And that is COCAINE BEAR. A lot of fun by people who understand what that means.
Available on Digital NOW and on Bluray 4/18