Right about now I can sense people saying, “Who the hell cares about any of that? I just want to watch a bear do cocaine!” And again: fine. You’ll get that here! But the bear in question never feels like a character or even a real animal. I get it — it’s more humane to use CGI than a real bear, and I support that 100%. But the bear here looks so cartoonishly phony that it’s hard to buy into it what the movie is selling. No matter — sure enough, the bear in question begins devouring any unlucky human that crosses its path. And as it turns out there are a whole group of humans wandering around.
There are two kids — Brooklynn Prince and Christian Convery — who skip school to go looking for a waterfall in the woods. Then there’s Keri Russell, playing the mother of Prince’s character, who learns of her daughter’s school-skipping and heads out to look for her. Margo Martindale is a surly park ranger who gets swept up in the search. Isiah Whitlock Jr. is a cop investigating the case of the dumped drugs. And then there are two drug dealers, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Alden Ehrenreich, looking for the lost coke. These characters all have names, but none of them matter. They’re barely characters. The only one who has anything approaching a storyline is Ehrenreich, who is mourning his recently deceased wife. He also has to contend with his father, a drug smuggler played by the late, great Ray Liotta in one of his final roles.
All of these individuals will have to contend with the cocaine bear one way or another, with frequently amusing results. Because, yes, “Cocaine Bear” is pretty funny. But the film is so shapeless, so shaggy, that it threatens to fall apart at any moment. It’s actually something of a small miracle that it holds together. The film is also so winking in its humor that it begins to get tiresome. It’s one thing to be in on the joke; it’s another thing to keep elbowing us in the ribs and asking us if we got it.
I’m all for rampaging animal movies. I’m all for ultra-silliness. I’m all for lots of gore. But after a while, the repetitive nature of “Cocaine Bear” began to wear me down, and the humor started to fall flat. Perhaps I’m asking too much from a movie called “Cocaine Bear.” But perhaps we should all want just a little bit more from movies, even if they’re very silly movies about bears doing cocaine.
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10