Cocaine Bear: A real ‘high’ of a movie


Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Cocaine Bear movie poster

This comedy-thriller is exactly as the name states: A bear high on cocaine. No hidden meaning, no poetic theme and certainly no lack of jaw-dropping moments. With its excessive gore and overall shocking plotline, this movie truly feels like its own high, and will leave you asking the question, “What the heck did I just watch?”

To many viewers’ surprise, Cocaine Bear is based on a true story of a bear in Georgia. In 1985, over 200 pounds of cocaine was dropped into a forest in Georgia from a drug runner’s plane that later crashed. A 175-pound American black bear discovered and ate a large amount of this cocaine before it died soon after from an overdose. The bear was found 3 months later in northern Georgia, alongside 40 opened plastic containers of cocaine.

The movie itself follows the events of a single day in which Sari (Keri Russell) goes searching for her 12-year-old daughter Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friend Henry (Christian Convery) who skipped school to wander through Chattahoochee National Park and did not return. While Sari and the park ranger (Margo Martindale) go searching for the kids, Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), two drug runners, are simultaneously searching in the woods for the cocaine that was lost. Meanwhile, there’s also a 500-pound black bear high on cocaine accompanying them in the woods.

Clearly, the movie takes an extremely loose interpretation of the true story with its man-eating, excessively large bear running around with over 50 pounds of cocaine in its system. However, a movie following the exact real-life events simply wouldn’t be entertaining enough for a big Hollywood film.

Director Elizabeth Banks, known for her roles as Effie in The Hunger Games and Gail in Pitch Perfect, appears to have slightly less experience as a director than as an actor. This lack of experience does become apparent at some points in the film when certain plot holes aren’t answered or special effects do not seem as real as they should, however, the well-timed jump scares and frequent well-calculated humor compensate for the lack of finesse. After all, no one is really seeing Cocaine Bear for the brilliant cinematography or particularly meaningful plot.

However, a movie attempting to make comedy out of overdosing on cocaine in a country that is grappling with substance use issues does raise some the question: Does this movie sensationalize cocaine use to a potentially young and naive audience?

The short answer is no. The movie in no way glamorizes drug use and never once shows any positive impacts of excessive cocaine use. If anything, I would expect young audience members to leave the theater more scared than ever to try cocaine considering the anything-but-ordinary side- effects present in the film.

Overall, this movie certainly had its moments of lighthearted jokes alongside heart-racing jumpscares and is guaranteed to provide a fun night for any audience member fully prepared for the rollercoaster this movie will take you on.

Plus, if you happen to become a Cocaine Bear superfan, the real-life “cocaine bear” is currently on display at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington, KY in order to fully immerse yourself in the Cocaine Bear experience.