“Cocaine Bear” brings much-needed barbaric fun to movie theaters

By Jack Poleto

Sports Editor

After months of advertising its outlandish concept, Elizabeth Banks delivers a never-before-seen method of murder on the silver screen with the long anticipated “Cocaine Bear,” which was released nationwide on Feb. 24.

According to Variety, the film is loosely based on true events, following a black bear who consumed around 40 plastic containers of cocaine in 1985. While no one died at the hands of the bear, Banks twists the story to tell a far bloodier tale.

Banks’ version of the story begins with a smuggler, Andrew C. Thornton II, as he tosses duffle bags of cocaine from a plane over the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. Unable to pull his parachute, Thornton plummets to the ground in a Tennessee suburb. A local detective, Bob, identifies the body and concludes that he is connected to a drug ring leader named Syd White.

In the meantime, the cocaine is recovered by a black bear in the park, who curiously ingests it. The stimulant heightens the bear’s natural tendencies, killing a Norwegian hiker who stumble across the animal.

Syd White sends a comedic duo, Eddie and Daveed, to recover the cocaine. Their dynamic is hilarious, making the already ridiculous premise even funnier. The pair are polar opposites; as Eddie has been in a perpetual state of depression since his wife died, but Daveed has a lack of sympathy for him, only wanting to get his job done.

The film then introduces middle schoolers Dee Dee and Henry, who stumble across the lost cocaine while skipping school. Their antics, which include trying forkfuls of cocaine in an attempt to impress each other, are both hysterical and anxiety-inducing.

These hijinks set the over-the-top tone for the rest of the film, which is filled with gory slasher scenes and explicit jokes. Its ridiculousness sets a high bar; there are few other dark comedies that can compete with the tense humor of “Cocaine Bear.”

To accompany the outlandish writing, the film’s cast has a few surprises. Ray Liotta, famous for acclaimed films like “Goodfellas” and “Field of Dreams,” plays drug pusher Syd White. Additionally, character actors Margo Martindale and Jesse Tyler Ferguson also appear throughout the film in bit roles as a park ranger and inspector.

The best comedy in the film comes from playing against these actors’ family-friendly types. While they usually play tamer roles, each provides comic relief against an adrenaline-pumping backdrop.

With its silly premise and stellar performances, “Cocaine Bear” has the potential to become one of cinema’s highest-grossing dark comedies. According to The Numbers, “Cocaine Bear” is already sitting as the fifty seventh highest grossing dark comedy, and its status is only set to go up after an excellent opening weekend.

According to Variety, the film brought in $2 million during its Thursday previews, where 3,000 theaters were chosen to screen it a day early. While its sales were projected to reach between $15 million $17 million by Feb. 26, according to Vulture, the film outperformed at the box office, drawing in $28.4 million its opening weekend.

As the film fights for its spot at number two in the box office against “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Cocaine Bear” finds new ways to appeal to the current generation’s comedy needs with a catchy title, barbaric special effects, and creative humor. With this amount of fun in the theater, you might have to come back for a few more showings.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Caption: The real-life cocaine bear sits taxidermied in the Kentucky for Kentucky store in Lexington, Ky.

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