You know exactly what you’re getting into with COCAINE BEAR when the first notes of “Jane” by Jefferson Starship start pumping … leading into a scene with a coked-out drug trafficker (Matthew Rhys doing THE MOST) tossing duffel bags of drugs out of a plane, then accidentally killing himself by jumping too high and smashing his noggin’ on the bulkhead.
The bags and the body land in the Chattahoochee National Forest, and a hungry Black momma bear finds the packages and starts ingesting them whole. After getting super high, the bear encounters a pair of clueless hikers (Kristofer Hivju & Hannah Hoekstra) and the carnage begins!
Meanwhile best friends Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) & Henry (Christian Convery) run away into the forest after Dee Dee’s mom, Sari (Keri Russell) announces a weekend trip away with her new boyfriend and all three also end up in the bear’s rampaging path.
Other people wandering the forest include a pair of *barely* competent Rangers (Margo Martindale & Jesse Tyler Ferguson), drug dealers Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) & Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) who need to find the missing coke for their dad (Ray Liotta!), and Detective Bob Springs (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), who’s trying to solve the mystery of the trafficker’s body.
I was super into the 80’s fashion (Keri, seriously, WHERE do I get that pink jumpsuit?!?) and music – Scandal! Berlin! Melle Mel! – but it was really the bear spitting a bullet out that sold it for me. Director Elizabeth Banks gets serious bonus points for including a mishmash of vintage D.A.R.E. PSAs at the beginning of the film.
Y’all know I was expecting a LOT of splatter, and I was not disappointed. The body count is high, the limbs are flying, there’s a really juicy brain shot, and praise be for all the practical F/X! Speaking of, all the special features are pretty great, but my fave was “UnBEARable Bloodbath” which showed all the behind-the-scenes effects details – including the bear actor they had in every scene, which I think went a long way in making the CGI’d bear (over his movements) more believable.
Do I think this film is an enduring classic? No, but it’s funny and definitely an enjoyable watch. And as usual, the more I learned about the making of it, the more I appreciated it as a whole. See also this quote from Banks about the ambulance chase scene:
“This is like Fast & Furious if instead of two cars, one is a bear”
COCAINE BEAR is out now on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD! Bonus features listed below are available on all.
‘MAXIMUM RAMPAGE EDITION’ EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES ON DIGITAL, BLU-RAY & DVD:
- Alternate Ending (worth a chuckle)
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
- All Roads Lead to Cokey: The Making of COCAINE BEAR – Meet the hilarious ensemble brought together to bring the movie of what is soon to be the world’s most famous bear to life.
- UnBEARable Bloodbath: Dissecting the Kills – From rigging to special effects makeup, to some of the actors doing their own stunts, we’ll get a bears-eye view into some of COCAINE BEAR’s hilarious and gory kill scenes.
- Doing Lines – Cast and filmmakers read lines from the script to COCAINE BEAR, which was a work of art unto itself.
- Feature Commentary with Director/Producer Elizabeth Banks and Producer Max Handelman