1 Hour 35 minutes, Rated R for Bear Cubs eating Ray Liotta’s intestines.
I am wasted on Cocaine Bear, and Cocaine Bear is wasted on me. It’s like asking a Michelin chef to prepare you a Whopper with cheese. There’s only one criteria for watching this film:
Do you want to see a CGI bear rampage around and kill people?
That’s it. That’s the only metric. This really is a movie that can be judged on title alone.
As such, there is nothing that I or any other film critic can say to dissuade a person who has decided to watch Cocaine Bear. Nor is there anything that I or any other film critic can say to induce a person who doesn’t want to watch Cocaine Bear. It is a film and a product that is wholly immune to criticism. Every letter I write on this review is ultimately howling into the void.
Cocaine Bear is like a Whopper, or a churro from a convenience store; it’s fast, cheap, probably not healthy for you, produced and vended to you by persons who have at best apathy towards your existence, providing a momentary rush and then a faint pang of regret at how you have wasted your life.
So, What’s Cocaine Bear about?
What traumatic brain injuries are you suffering from? There’s a bear, that finds cocaine, and then proceeds on a drug fueled spree of freestyle amputations and maulings. You knew what this film was about. Before this film, I was whimsically speculating upon the sequels, upon a franchise: Methamphetamine Cougar, Fentanyl Eagle, Ayahuasca Aardvark. Watching the film, I enjoyed the final credits the most, because they told me that the film was almost over.
Cocaine Bear has a bit of verite, in that all of the non-ursine scenes feel like hanging around with actual cocaine users: brittle, accelerated, overly chatty conversations with people with vastly inflated impressions of their own relevance and tragically absent appreciations for the quality of silence in a conversation.
Cocaine Bear is a perfect movie to watch when you don’t care about watching movies. Does that make sense? It doesn’t demand your attention, your engagement. You can put it on and let it run and do laundry or drink wine or check your emails and you won’t miss a thing. There’s nobody to root for, other than the bear. It’s Ray Liotta’s final film, an obituary for a talent that somehow feels as grim as watching Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Keri Russell and Margo Martindale too; child actor Christian Convery is a bright spark too. Elizabeth Banks, the director, previously served us the Movie 43 and Charlie’s Angels (the forgettable one from 2019); but living in the Kali Yuga as we do, I am no longer surprised by people failing upwards. I don’t hate Elizabeth Banks; I do hate the writer, Jimmy Warden. Every scene without the bear is insufferable; I don’t really believe that there was a human character in this film. It’s all badly copped Tarantinovian banter with no end; we’re never given time to bother to care about any of the characters in this film. This movie never breathes, despite ostensibly being set in a national park; it sweats, and occasionally twitches. There are no chills, no thrills, and the jokes are mostly sour and half-baked. The only gratification offered by this film is in the grand guignol gore of the bear biting and mauling with aplomb.
It’s a delirious first draft of a film treatment. There’s an attempt to mine the well of 1980s nostalgia, and the soundtrack does a lot of lifting for the shortcomings of the script. As I often do, I could imagine a better film within this film: a tale of hillbillies and cartels and gangsters bumbling and tripping over each other hunting for duffel bags of cocaine, the carnage being attributed to a wild animal ultimately far less potent.
The mill of Hollywood is a great juddering kaleidoscope, endlessly reshuffling and retreading spectacle out of a cynical appreciation for the minute memories of the public. After Jaws, there was a miniature fad of bad horror movies about bears: Grizzly, and The Prophecy. Cocaine Bear is just Snakes on a Plane without Samuel Jackson being around to phone it in. I’m not the right person to watch this film, or to review it.
Nobody believes in the value of critical writing anymore, any more than people believe in the opinions of scientists, civil engineers, or doctors. We’ve reached the triumph of the swill, the great populist tsunami of everyone’s opinions is valid and equal. And it is within that vast and brackish backwash that mediocrity thrives, is empowered, is vindicated.
You know who I feel bad for? The teenagers who don’t know any better. The people who will shuffle into their seats with a smirk and who will shuffle out again with a shrug.
If you want bear maulings, watch The Revenant, or watch Grizzly Man. But if you need something to fill the void of the screen in your living room as you go about your day, Cocaine Bear is acceptable.
Fair Value? I don’t even know. $1.00? .25 cents? What’s an hour and a half of your life worth to you?