Cocaine Bear Knows What It Is and Embraces the Chaos

Cocaine Bear is a 2023 comedy starring the late great Ray Liotta and a bear.  In this movie, a bear injests a large amount of Satan Sugar and turns into a 500 pound killing machine, tearing through anyone in its way to get its next fix. 

In a sense, Cocaine Bear is a variety show with a series of colorful guest performers who encounter Cocaine Bear before something violent happens to them.   Imagine The Late Late Show if James Cordon ripped all of the guests limb from limb… you know, like James Cordon in any public service industry situation.  What I’m trying to say is, James Cordon sucks and The Late Late Show would be better if it was hosted by Cocaine Bear.

So, this movie is a riot.  It is a gory, violent, hyper-aware riot that is never intended to be taken seriously.   That is exactly why this movie works:  Cocaine Bear knows exactly what it is and maintains a light, self-aware tone.   It doesn’t bother with realism or keeping things grounded.  The situations and characters are ridiculous and unapologetically so.   This movie is Snakes on a Plane without the restraint.  

Since the characters are really nothing more than cartoony archetypes, Cocaine Bear never comes off as cynical and mean.  This allows the movie to fully embrace its own glorious cartoony hedonism unimpeded. 

For example, Margo Martindale, the greatest character actor in the known universe according to Bojack Horseman, plays a park ranger in his film and, if I knew nothing about this movie, I would think that this WAS a fake movie from Bojack Horseman.  Martindale is so hilarious in this role that every scene she is in is pure gold.

We also have Alden Ehrenreich, young Han Solo, as an emotionally wrecked gangster’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing a pitch perfect drug dealer who is just done with all the ridiculousness that keeps coming his direction, Keri Russell as a mom so completely out of her element that you’re just waiting for the bear to turn her into a statistic, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as a wildlife expert right out of a Disney Channel sit com,  Isiah Whitlock Jr. as a cop apparently only a few weeks from retirement, and so many more. 

I want to put a special spotlight on young actor, Christian Convery, who plays the character of Henry.  He’s the blond curly haired kid who gets all the best lines in the trailers.  This young man is hysterical in every scene he’s in.  I hope that when my dream sequels of Meth Shark, Heroin Lion, and Adderall Sloth are made, Henry is there to stand against them or at least run away from them screaming. 

The late Ray Liotta makes what I believe is his final film appearance in this movie playing – you guessed it – a gangster.   He’s over the top, he’s ridiculous, and it looked like he had a grand time.  I’m not sad this was his last movie.  It was great. 

What keeps Cocaine Bear going… other than the cocaine, of course, is that there really is only the thinnest of plots stringing it together with minimal stakes.  This movie exists to have fun with a stupid concept.   Unfortunately, the movie makes the disappointing decision to try and concoct an actual story during the final act with actual stakes and, sadly, I think that this robbed the movie of what made it so entertaining.  These dozen characters didn’t have to converge and the movie didn’t have to mean anything.  This could have been a loose analogy where the characters never collided and I would have been happy.   Sadly, the need to bring the human characters’ stories to a conclusion, only made me wish that the final act had more bear because, let’s face it… the bear was the star the whole time.  Not the people.

All in all, though, this was a grand time.  A ludicrous motion picture and I do believe that I laughed harder at this film than I have at any comedy in a long time.  It makes me think that more so-called comedies need killer animals in them.  Imagine “You People… and a Wolf!”, “A Madea Homecoming with a Tiger”, “Lyle Lyle Crocodile… and an Alligator!”  “Bros… and a Bear!” 

The possibilities are endless and I believe they should be explored in an expansive cinematic comedy universe. 

 I’m going to start writing the scripts now. 

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