Plot: What’s it about?
As of this writing, I’ve been reviewing movies for nearly twenty five years. In that time I’ve seen some truly great films, some good ones, bad ones and some awful ones. So what was I to think when a movie with the title Cocaine Bear was released? My knee jerk reaction says it has “guilty pleasure” written all over it. But the film does have roots in history. Yes, the events in this film actually happened (to an extent, I’m sure a lot of creative liberties were taken). I recall an interview with director Elizabeth Banks who remarked that “…this could be a career ender.” And she’s right. But I will say that some of the more enjoyable films out there are those that poke fun at themselves and/or their genre. Yes, The Meg, Crawl and Lake Placid all share similarities to this one so if any of those were up your alley – you’ll be high on life.
There’s a certain amount of suspending your disbelief with Cocaine Bear. I’ll go on the assumption that anyone reading this knows that. If not, you do now. We meet a drug smuggler tossing bags of cocaine out of an airplane. He’s supposed to skydive and retrieve them, but things don’t go according to plan and he, well, dies. A black bear finds some of these bags and, as we might expect, snorts the contents. Worried mother Sari (Keri Russell) sets off to look for her missing daughter, Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince). Also in on the action is Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a cop who’s been assigned to the case. Not to be left out we meet drug kingpin Syd (Ray Liotta), who “owns” all of the product. He sends his son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and friend Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) to retrieve what’s theirs. Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) gets involved as she helps Sari try and find her daughter.
Cocaine Bear won’t challenge your intellect. And if it does, you’ve got far bigger problems in life. It’s over-the-top, funny, sometimes gross (lots of folks die) but an overall good time. There are only a few recognizable faces, notably Keri Russell, Jessie Tyler Ferguson and Ray Liotta in his last movie role. But this ensemble cast does make the movie work and let us not forget our bear who nearly steals the show. There’s a caveat that “no animals were harmed in the making of this film” and it’s true – they were all CGI. One thing that surprised me was that this is Elizabeth Banks’ sixth film to direct. She’s known for more recent films like the Charlie’s Angels reboot, Movie 43 and Pitch Perfect 2. Clearly she’s as talented behind the camera as she is in front of it. Look, the movie is what it is. Anyone with half a brain knows what to expect. Sit back, relax and have a good time watching a group of folks trying to avoid getting eaten by a bear high on cocaine. The end.
Video: How’s it look?
The movie takes place in the mid 80’s so we’re treated to a rather unique look. As is the case with many new movies taking place in the past, there always seems to be a need to put iconic items in the film just to say “Hey, see, we’re in the (insert decade name here).” Air Jordans, posters of George Michael and Adam Ant and so on. At any rate, the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K transfer does add a bit more information than its Blu-ray counterpart. Bold, bright colors (namely from Keri Russell’s character) abound. The bear (all CGI) looks about as realistic as we’d expect, but the additional detail in this Blu-ray seems to give it an extra dose of life. With a park as a backdrop, we’ve also got plenty of green hues from the trees and so forth. Detail is as expected – excellent. If you “need” HDR and a tidbit more detail, it’s here but I’d personally stick with the Blu-ray.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I’ve never heard a bear roar in real life and, hopefully, never will. But I mention this as the included Dolby Atmos mix has some truly great moments and is an upgrade from the Blu-ray’s DTS HD Master Audio mix. A snorting, grunting bear is only half the fun of course as we’ve got a cast trying their best to do their Georgia southern drawl. And, OK, it sounds pretty good. Directional effects are few and far between, but it’s a good, solid-sounding track that has enough of “this” and “that” that it resonated with me. It won’t blow the lid off the place, but it heightens the viewing experience, to be sure.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Alternate Ending – In the “not so different, yet it doesn’t make sense” category we’ve got this. About a 20 second “alternate ending” that had me scratching my head.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – Four and a half minutes are included, though the scenes aren’t labeled/titled. The highlight of these would be Sari (Keri Russell) pulling a vacuum cleaner hose out of a certain part of a man’s anatomy. Lovely.
- Gag Reel – I have to imagine that there were plenty of chuckles on the set when making this movie. Here’s but a sampling.
- 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 the hilarious and gory kill scenes.
- Doing Lines – Cast and filmmakers read lines from the script, which was a work of art unto itself.
- Audio Commentary – Director/Producer Elizabeth Banks and Producer Max Handelman are actually quite chatty during this track. Then again they only had 95 minutes to work with. Admittedly, some of the material is repetitive if you’ve watched the other supplements, but if you enjoyed the movie, this track is the icing on the cake.
The Bottom Line
Movies that don’t take themselves too seriously are among the most enjoyable to watch. Cocaine Bear certainly falls in that category. And I have to admit that this delivers on what it promises. You’ll likely know in the first two minutes if this is for you or not. I have no idea why they waited to release the 4K version six months after the Blu-ray release. If you’ve been waiting for this, that wait is over. Personally I’d stick with the Blu-ray and call it a day.