Action comedy has tons of drugs, swearing, gory violence.
Based on 13 reviews
Based on 16 reviews
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cocaine Bear is director Elizabeth Banks' graphic action comedy based on a real 1985 event in which a 175-pound black bear ingested 75 pounds of cocaine that had been dumped from an airplane. It's very mature: Expect strong drug content, incessant swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "ass," "motherf----r," and much more), and relentlessly gory violence. The bear mauls and dismembers people, and there are explicit images of several severed limbs, as well as a decapitated head. People also die via gunshot (including a close-up of the blood splatter and gore) and from a car accident, but most of the many casualties are courtesy of the bear. There's also cigarette smoking, kissing, and a couple of suggestive comments. Spoiler alert: Although children are injured (and also try the cocaine they find), they both survive. The movie stars Keri Russell and O'Shea Jackson and features the final on-screen performance of the late Ray Liotta.
Exactly what a movie called Cocaine Bear should be…
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Satisfactory story, but good entertainment.
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What's the Story?
Loosely based on real events from 1985, COCAINE BEAR starts out with a drug smuggler (Matthew Rhys) ditching duffel bags full of cocaine bricks off of an auto-piloted plane into the Georgia wilderness. After the bags fall into the Chattahoochee National Forest, a black bear gets into the bags and quickly becomes addicted to the drug. The usually peace-loving bear then begins to wreak bloody havoc. Meanwhile, Missouri drug dealer Syd (Ray Liotta) instructs his number two, Daveed (O'Shea Jackson), to take his grieving son, Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), to retrieve the remaining duffel bags. But they aren't the only folks heading into the forest: Two 13-year-olds, Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery), have skipped school so that Dee Dee can paint a waterfall. Eventually Dee Dee's single mom, Sari (Keri Russell), finds out and sets out on their trail, where she meets park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), who's unsuccessfully trying to flirt with park service administrator Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). As the various groups collide in the forest, they must all contend with the now cocaine-obsessed apex predator that's stalking around the forest.
Is It Any Good?
The idea of a coked-up black bear destroying everyone in its way to more drugs is initially novel, but the concept doesn't quite carry the entire movie. Some viewers will likely laugh a lot as the bear gets so aggressive that it starts attacking people -- sometimes because the unfortunate soul also found the cocaine and is covered in its debris. But after a while, Cocaine Bear becomes more of a slasher flick than a comedy, and the blood spray, brain splatter, torn limbs, fallen fingers, and accidental shootings start to mute the laughter. Plus, it's hard to invest in characters who exist solely to feed the same punchline (the bear loves cocaine! the bear will kill everyone in its way!) over and over again.
The most compelling subplot is between Daveed and Eddie, the latter of whom is a rare find in pop culture. The adult son of a drug kingpin, he not only wants out of the family business, but also wants to be left alone to grieve the death of his wife. And Martindale is likely to be a crowd favorite as gun-toting park ranger Liz, who had hoped the day would end with a romantic moment with the clueless parks service manager (played by an always-amusing Ferguson). Russell's formulaic "not without my daughter" story arc is bolstered by the goofy young Convery, who plays Dee Dee's best friend. And Sari's human "mama bear" character is a necessary foil to the actual bear, who's always on the hunt for more of the cocaine to eat. Banks and writer Jimmy Warden milk every inch of humor from the titular pitch, but the bear's manic drug-induced antics leave little for the human characters to do other than die in a bloody, if occasionally funny, manner. Ultimately this movie is an entertaining gag that grows a bit tiring by the 10th shot of viscera and gore.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the violence in Cocaine Bear. Is it realistic, cartoonish, disturbing, or funny? How does violence impact viewers differently if it's wrapped in humor?
Discuss the drug use in the story. What's unique about the way substance use is portrayed here? Is it glamorized? How did you feel when the two teens tried drugs?
Are there any role models in the movie? Does every movie need to have role models? Who were you most hoping would survive?
What genre do you consider this movie? Is it a comedy, horror, thriller, action film -- or a combination?
- In theaters: February 24, 2023
- Cast: Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich
- Director: Elizabeth Banks
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Friendship, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout
- Last updated: March 17, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Modest monster flick is great fun for teens.
'70s classic horror tale is still scary as ever.
Creepy/clever creature feature with touches of humor.
For kids who love comedy and thrills
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