I am a little surprised at how “high”-ly I’d rate Cocaine Bear. I imagined it would be worth a laugh or two, and have a few memorable bear-versus-human battles, but I never imagined that I would actually recommend it to people. Directed by Elizabeth Banks and produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, it has comedic chops, but it’s also more engaging as a drama than you’d expect a horror film about a bear to be.
Of course, you’ve probably already googled to see how much of a real story this is, but it’s fantastic fiction, too. As all of the different subsections of the story converge on the forest where the bear is getting higher and higher thanks to inhaling cocaine smugglers’ misplaced drugs, the film finds a way to keep us entertained and take us to new heights thanks to the work of Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, O’Shea Jackson, Alden Ehrenreich, Margo Martindale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and two child actors, Christian Convery and Brooklyn Prince. This is rare air indeed.
Now the fiction and the reality are a little different, as you’d expect, but it’s still worth noting that the idea isn’t completely estranged from fiction. Thanks to a little creativity, we’re treated to a bear-versus-humans, nature-versus-man narrative that allows for a little insight into family dynamics from a multi-faceted point of view. On one human side you have Sari (Russell) and her daughter, and on the other human side you have Syd (Liotta) and his son Eddie (Ehenreich) and their drug dealing buddy Daveed (Jackson), who may be more brother to Eddie than Syd is a father. But the third element of the triangle is the mother bear and her cubs. By the end, you might decide that Sari and the mother bear have more in common than Sari and Syd do…
Now available on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD, the film has plenty of extras like deleted scenes, gag reel, making of, and commentary and more. The story has definite layers that allow for horror, laughs, and maybe a little insightful drama. It’s not fun for the whole family, but it’s definitely a story that asks us to consider what family looks like and how far we would go to protect it.