Saturday, April 1, 2023

REVIEW: 11 of us watched ‘Cocaine Bear.’ 10 of us loved it.

March 1, 2023
State News staff views "Cocaine Bear" at Lansing NCG.
State News staff views "Cocaine Bear" at Lansing NCG. —
Photo by Staff Reports | The State News

Those who spend too much of their time on Twitter might be aware of the recent demand for more movies that fit two criteria: 90 minutes long and absolutely ridiculous. 

At one hour and 36 minutes of absolute absurdity, "Cocaine Bear" had 90 percent of us completely satisfied. 

We gathered at the Lansing NCG for our viewing party because it had something that other theaters didn’t. Not cheaper prices, not better popcorn, but a giant bear cutout. Even though our attempts to buy the magnificent cutout from the NCG staff were unsuccessful, we all enjoyed the experience, nonetheless. 

Now, we're not entirely sure how to review a movie when its plot is fully summed up in its title. But we're going to give it a try.


The best way to survive a Cocaine Bear attack? Let the bear have its coke and get the h--l out of the forest. That’s a deer problem now. 

We haven’t seen a movie get as many pre-release advertisements since "Avengers: End Game." We haven’t seen a movie that not only lives up to the hype but exceeds it since "Avengers: End Game." Yes. That's right. "Cocaine Bear" is an Avengers-level threat and a box-office smash.

2023’s hottest movie has everything — bears, cocaine, eighties windbreakers, characters whose names you never actually find out, Jesse Tyler Ferguson in a wig that made us ask “Is that David Spade?” Baby bears that are also on cocaine, slapstick humor and severed limbs. 

It goes as follows: A drug smuggler drops loads of cocaine bricks out of an airplane. The drugs land scattered across a national park, where a bear finds it, ingests it and gets hooked. The rest is an absolute absurdity. Cocaine Bear doesn’t care about who you are or why you are in the forest. Cocaine Bear only cares about two things: killing hikers and getting its next bump, preferably off of a hiker’s severed leg. 

The result is scenes that caused us to defy all norms of polite movie-going behavior as the people around us joined in with vocal reactions to the wildly nonsensical film before us. We were borderline shrieking. 

We were left with more questions than answers. But we weren't necessarily mad at that. We clearly didn't come for a brilliant plot.

But how did nobody manage to shoot the bear? Why is there only one park ranger? Why does nobody call the police after the tourists go missing? How fast can the bear run to crisscross the park on its murder spree?  

The answer to these questions, of course, lies in the fact that the movie would have been about five minutes long if it made any sense. Instead, we got 90 minutes of utter commitment to the bit, and that’s respectable. 

With a few exceptions, it’s pretty obvious from the start which characters will make it to the end of the movie. One of these characters is Daveed, who is introduced to us as a drug dealer and the right-hand man of the notorious drug lord Syd, whose operation is responsible for losing the cocaine the bear found. Daveed is an excellent example of how fun and likable a lot of these characters are. You really end up rooting for them (even if many of them do get mauled by a bear). 

Now, even though we just said that a lot of these characters end up being pretty likable, we never said they were smart. But that is to be expected. The characters consist of two 13-year-olds, a couple of drug dealers, teenage rugrats and some corny European tourists — this isn’t exactly a Ph.D. dissertation panel. 

This leads us to arguably the best part of the movie — while some of our main heroes come out of the whole ordeal alive, so does the bear. In a typical horror thriller, the “bad guy” usually dies at the end, but this movie prioritizes the only relationship with any grounding whatsoever: the bear and its cocaine. 

The complaints go as follows: It was pretty gory. We had to hide our faces quite a bit. We anticipated a little bit of pure mischief from the coked-out bear (naive, we know). We thought maybe the coke made the bears get a little silly — not develop an insatiable urge to feast on everyone in its path. 

But we can see the necessity of such violence — "Cocaine Bear" is the quintessential animal monster movie that audiences tend to love. The film possesses the element of terror with an affinity towards blind violence. 

Take our warnings but let us be clear: blood and guts aren’t all this flick has in store – the real engine behind this train to fun-town is its use of humor.  The film is at its best when it pokes fun at itself, understanding the tropes behind slasher comedies and leaning into them.

"Cocaine Bear" was dumb, but blissfully so. We haven't laughed so much at a movie in years. The wonder of "Cocaine Bear" might not be the film itself, but rather the energy it cultivates in the audience — an atmosphere where it’s not only acceptable but expected that you burst out laughing at a bear devouring a human limb. 

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Some of us have already seen this movie twice. If asked, most would see it again. We're not sure what our limit to seeing this movie is, or if it even exists.


Share and discuss “REVIEW: 11 of us watched ‘Cocaine Bear.’ 10 of us loved it. ” on social media.