Cocaine Bear Is a Surprising High

She 'rocks harder than each and every one of the snakes' in 'Snakes on a Plane'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 10:57 AM CST

There's an apex predator high on blow terrorizing the woods of Georgia in Elizabeth Banks' Cocaine Bear, which despite its outrageous premise has a warm 72% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Filmed in the early days of the pandemic, the horror-comedy is very loosely based on a 1985 incident in which a black bear ripped into cocaine dropped by smugglers, though there was no blood spilled in that instance, unless you count the bear's death by overdose. Four takes:

  • The film "lays out a busy array of human subplots"—involving hikers, a park ranger, a PETA inspector, a detective, a mom in search of her daughter, and a trio of criminals in search of their lost cache—and "does a reasonably good job of both scrambling and satisfying your expectations," writes Justin Chang at the Los Angeles Times. It also "offers a nice supply of sharp and grisly, at least until it takes a disappointing turn for soft and cuddly." But then "you've seen worse new movies in February."
  • The "more or less realistic" bear "rocks harder than each and every one of the snakes in Snakes on a Plane," writes Cary Darling at the Houston Chronicle, who clearly got a kick out of the "light-horror" film. "Banks' simultaneously gruesome and amusing take on the wild-animals-gone-wild genre" is "a crowd-pleaser," and one that thankfully "never devolves into Bearnado," he writes.

  • Mark Kennedy is less merciful, giving the film exactly zero stars out of 4. "We have officially sunk very low with Cocaine Bear, way past other films" including Snakes on a Plane and Sharknado, he writes at the AP. The movie "never finds its own voice or a way to integrate the ultra-violence with the dark comedy," he writes. "It's like a parody of a parody that director Elizabeth Banks has turned limp and pointless." As for the stars, they "all deserve hazard pay" as "this is not a career high."
  • Brian Truitt, however, writes we should "get the 2024 Oscar best picture convo started for Cocaine Bear." "Proudly ridiculous yet sincerely enjoyable," it "only asks that you love the B-movie beauty and its fabulous beast." Set against "scads of supporting characters who tend to bog down the momentum," the bear "has a ton of personality" and is "delightful to watch in her altered state," Truitt writes at USA Today, giving the film three stars out of four.
(More movie review stories.)

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