COCAINE BEAR – Rated R- 1 hr. 35 mins.

DIRECTED BY:  Elizabeth Banks

WRITTEN BY:  Jimmy Warden

STARRING:  Ray Liotta, Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brooklyn Prince, Christian Convery and Kristofer Hivju

If you’ve glanced at the trailer for this coke-induced dark comedy, you know going in that you are in for one wild ride.  But, with that said, nothing prepared me for just how much fun this film by Director Elizabeth Banks was going to be, as she has turned this partially true adventure into one fabulous date night excursion for the masses.  And the fact that this film talks about my beloved St. Louis throughout it too, was just icing to this cake of mayhem…as we find ourselves in the midst of the real-life part of the storyline, venturing into circa 1985, and the life of ex-narcotics agent Andrew Thornton (Matthew Rys).  Thornton has just returned with duffle bags full of cocaine from Columbia, only to find the feds hot on his tail, or so he thinks, so he is forced to ditch his air born stash of cocaine into a Tennessee National Park.  Now is when the fun really gets going…when we meet St. Louis drug pin Syd (Ray Liotta) his son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and his buddy, and fellow drug trafficker Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) who have been instructed to find Thornton’s duffle bags of cocaine at any cost…

And what’s a good 80’sesque film, without a few side hustles happening throughout it too, as we meet youngsters Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery), skipping school and venturing into the drug infested wilderness, just so Mom Sari (Keri Russell) can venture into the wilderness too, in hopes of finding them.  Plus, what would a raving cocaine filled bear film be, without a Park Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), and her nature loving cohort Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) trying to rid the forest of this menace of a creature too…

Plus, where there are drugs, there must be law enforcement lurking close by, as Officer Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr) and Officer Reba (Ayoola Smart) are hot on the trail of finding these illustrious duffle bags too, before anyone else does…

Now, as this Cocaine induced bear continues to find access to new duffels filled with cocaine, all over his happy home, the rampage of torture and dismemberment continues to escalate with each new human encounter, leaving us all to gasp and shut our eyes, as wreaking more and more havoc is apparently the only way to go for this wildman of a creature…

I give COCAINE BEAR a rating of 3.5 out of 5 Stars:  I have to admit that the enticement of catching this film at the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in St. Louis was the only thing that drew me to catching this film initially, as it seemed that it was going to be about as corny of a film as it gets.  But surprisingly, as COCAINE BEAR played out, the absolute fun of this film came shining through, way beyond the incredible viewing venue I was planted in.  Banks manages to bring to life a film that is cemented in its 80’s genre film feel, the whole way through. She also managed to secure a superb cast that brings some existential realism to this crazy ride, making it totally palatable every step of the way.  And as the gore of dismemberment and mauling goes – as that is what bears do on any normal day, not just when they’re on the white powdery stuff – it ends up being not so excessive that my queasy stomach couldn’t take it either.  And as I listened to all the couples around me laughing throughout this film too, it cemented my interpretation that this would make for a fabulous date night excursion, which the guys are going to enjoy slightly more than the ladies will, but every once in a while, we should indulge their movie choices too!  I have to also share that I was saddened when I realized that COCAINE BEAR was one of the last films I will ever see where Ray Liotta graces the big screen, but the nostalgia of that sentiment, ended up adding to the joy I felt once this film was through. So, If you love dark comedies, and just laughing for the joy of the crazy that is happening on screen, or if your life just needs a little humor at this point to deflect from your total “Shit of a week”…then for you my friends, COCAINE BEAR is a definite must see, at a theater near you, this weekend!

Kathy Kaiser

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