Cocaine Bear (2023)

Quick Reviews/Cult Films/Worth a Watch

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Written by Jimmy Warden

Starring Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Kristofer Hivju, Hannah Hoekstra, Aaron Holliday, Margo Martindale, & Ray Liotta

Release Date: February 24, 2023

Running Time: 1hr 35min

Rating: R

In 1985, drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II drops a shipment of cocaine from his plane. He attempts to parachute out with a drug-filled duffel bag, but knocks himself unconscious on the doorframe, causing him to fall to his death in Knoxville, Tennessee. Meanwhile, in the Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forest of Georgia, an American black bear eats some of the cocaine that landed there, becoming highly aggressive and going on a rampage. Various characters have encounters with the bear, with most not ending so well.

The movie was theatrically released in the United States on February 24, 2023, by Universal Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $81 million worldwide against a $30–35 million budget. It was dedicated to the memory of Ray Liotta, who died during post production in May 2022.

This is loosely based on true events. Andrew C. Thornton II was a real drug smuggler who did indeed fall to his death while attempting to parachute out of his plane and dumping several kilos of cocaine. An American black bear Has did indeed ingest several kilos of cocaine, but chances are it died not long after that. The bear’s taxidermied body was given to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The bear, however, disappeared until it emerged again in a pawn shop. Eventually it made its way to the “Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall” in Lexington, Kentucky (birthplace of Thornton) where it remains to this day.

I got exactly what I wanted out of a movie called Cocaine Bear! This is such a fun movie, tongue firmly in cheek, but still willing to show off some gruesome and creative deaths. It’s definitely the kind of movie that’s destined for cult status, which it seems more than happy with. The cast consists of many familiar faces and they’re all cleverly having a good time. It moves at a brisk and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Enjoyment of the film depends on your personal tastes, which the title and premise should make very clear.

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