Fun, comic horror/gore with a goofy bear. And Ray Liotta, too!
Cocaine Bear lives up to the promise of its viral trailer with a story that’s inspired by true events. But that story comes with a whole lot of embellishment.
The film’s opening scene signals the light-hearted tone of the movie. The ill-fated pilot dances wildly inside his soon-to-crash plane as he ejects the parcels of nose candy just before he ejects himself.
Yes, a bear discovers the coke in the north Georgia woods and appears to like it. Much to the dismay of the St. Louis-based (!) drug kingpin (Liotta) who sends his son (Alden Ehrenreich) and the son’s chum to fetch it.
The cast also includes Keri Russell as a single mom whose daughter is lost in the woods where the bear is romping, high on flake. And Margo Martindale as a park ranger. They, like everyone else in the cast, are all looking for the bear, the coke or both. But the real star of the movie is the bear.
And the bear looks good! Okay, it’s mostly a CGI bear plus some scenes with a guy in a bear suit. But it looks real. And it is huge. (The bears I’ve seen in the wild in the Smokies are smaller and almost cuddly looking.)
The film, directed by Elizabeth Banks, has sufficient blood and gore to satisfy fans of that kind of thing. (In addition to dismemberment and contusions suffered by humans, the bear slobbers. Gross!) And Cocaine Bear has enough chuckles to tickle audience funny bones.
Considering that Ray Lotta died last May, you might presume this would be his last on-screen appearance. You would be wrong. According to IMDB, there are still three more Liotta roles yet to come.
One more thing: the St. Louis advance screening of Cocaine Bear was held at the city’s new Alamo Drafthouse theater multiplex at City Foundry. The seats, the sight lines, the sound were terrific. Let’s hope this place is a success.