Conners Critique’s: Cocaine Bear is a crack-up of a movie but with little to no substance


In 1985, a 175 pound American black bear, later affectionately named “Pablo Eskobear” or “Cokey the Bear,” ingested 75 pounds worth of cocaine scattered throughout the Tennessee wilderness by Andrew C Thorton II, a drug smuggler. The bear proceeded to go on a coke-fueled rampage until he was found dead in Georgia. 


These events led to the creation of the 2023 movie “Cocaine Bear” directed by Elizabeth Banks which tells the tale of what happened during the bear’s drug-induced trip, albeit with some embellishments.

The movie does a decent job of informing the audience about the story of Cocaine Bear and by the end of the movie you gain a comprehensive grasp of what occurred. Although, the movie does add a few events that do not occur in real life, as Cocaine Bear did not actually kill anyone.

The movie is categorized as a comedy/thriller. However, there are few comedic scenes, and it would be better just to label it as a thriller film. It features plenty of gory scenes and a lot of gun violence as police, gang members, park rangers and one concerned mother search through the park to find the missing cocaine. Or in the case of the mother, her lost child who ran off into the woods at the beginning of the film.

One element that the movie lacked was substance.  Despite how much action goes on, it’s in a very obvious pattern: the movie follows one group and then the group is mauled and that sequence continues with the following groups. Because of the repetitive sequence of events, the film becomes very rinse-and-repeat, with the predictable plot and the violence becoming less shocking over time. Along with that, due to how repetitive the scenes are, the movie easily fades into the background. 

Also, the characters seem incredibly shallow, as they lack basic intelligence and do the stupidest option available when presented with a choice. The characters have no well-developed backstory and for most of them, what you see on the screen is what you get, with the exception of the half-cooked backstory the writers gave one of the main characters, Dee-Dee, played by Brooklynn Prince, who is a little girl lost in the woods, which feels like more of an afterthought. 

An additional element of the movie that falls to the back burner is the music as there is no memorable soundtrack. Any and all sounds feel like it comes from either the dialogue between characters, the bear or nature. If there is music playing at some point it is because characters in the film are playing it. Consequently, a majority of the movie feels silent and uncomfortable, whenever there is little action occurring.

Overall, critics gave it a decent score across the board, IMDb with a 6.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 68% and audiences gave it an average rating of 3.3 stars.

‘Cocaine Bear’ is a decent movie that delivers the story of a bear high on cocaine quite well, but despite its entertaining moments, the movie falls short of being a must-see. If there is nothing more interesting in theaters, it’s worth a watch. Don’t go out of your way to see this though, because it won’t leave a lasting impression.