Review: ‘Cocaine Bear’ claws in box office win

Cocaine Bear movie poster. Photo courtesy of IMDb.

By Maximilian Diehl | Staff Writer

Few movies in modern history have so readily fooled their audience as “Cocaine Bear,” subverting their expectations in forms of both genre and tone. I, for one, was expecting something on par with the likes of “Velocipastor” and “Sharknado.”

There was tension, a preparation on the part of the theater, half-full of people waiting for humor, and general foolishness. Rather, what was to come over the next hour and a half was something heavier, somewhat serious and far more rational than anyone might have suspected.

First, to focus on what went wrong. While the movie generally moved well, the set up was just slightly too long. It became a frustration to listen to characters continue to fail in understanding what we, as an audience, already know. Sure, dramatic irony has a great place in literature and media, but there comes a point when it is too much.

The gore in this movie was gratuitous, something that felt like a flawed attempt at humor in a movie that already had enough humor on premise alone. And when I say there is gratuitous gore, I mean more than any movie needs, even a body horror film.

The last gripe that I really feel needs to be made is along the lines of the acting performances. Many of them were somewhat forced and lackluster, but that shouldn’t be a shock when the movie is mainly about a CGI bear. Beyond these three things, there is very little to complain about with this movie — a statement that truly bewilders me.

There was a shocking amount of plot development that went into the creation of this movie, and absolutely none of it was advertised. The selling point was the big coked-up bear, which in hindsight, is entirely fair. The bear was a great villain, embodying the ’80s monster movie role to perfection, with a twist towards horror and the speed and shocking stealth of a figure we don’t see for a great bit of the movie.

There is a wide cast of characters that really offer some level of relatability for just about anybody watching — the dog lover, the mom fighting to save her kids, the punk teenagers and the ultra romantic. Between all of these character archetypes, there are a lot of great interactions, unbelievable situational comedy and a shocking level of vulnerability and emotional reflection. The public seems to agree, as the movie can be considered a true commercial success, more than doubling its budget in the box office.

Overall, this movie was enjoyable, something that greatly succeeded expectations and might actually be referred to as … good. At the very worst, one should regard it with the terminology of “average,” “almost good” and “shockingly decent.” Final rating: seven out of 10.