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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 27, 2023


‘COCAINE BEAR’ is a comedy tinged with horror and is based on the real life 1985 story of a huge black bear which ingested nearly 34 kilos of lost cocaine. 

Now showing in local theaters, it’s a surprise hit worldwide. It starts when a drug smuggler, Andrew Thompson (Matthew Rhys), drops a shipment of cocaine from his plane.  

He then escapes with a bag full of cocaine and intends to parachute down, but he bumps his head into the plane’s door and falls down without opening his chute.  

A cop in Knoxville, Tennessee where his body landed, recognizes him as a drug dealer and correctly surmises that the stash is from a drug kingpin, Syd White (Ray Liotta, the movie is dedicated to him as it’s one of his last movies.)   

The black bear finds some of the bags of cocaine and eats it. 

A pair of hikers in Chattahoochee National Forest Park in Georgia, who are about to get married, Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra) and Olaf (Kristover Hivju), see the bear and think it’s harmless. 

Well, are they in for a big surprise, as the prohibited drugs have made the bear very aggressive and attacks them. 

We then see a nurse, Sari (Keri Russell of “Felicity”), coming home from night duty. 

She’s about to sleep when she learns that her tween daughter, Deedee (Brooklyn Prince), has cut classes to go to the forest with her friend Henry (Christian Convery), so she has no choice but follow them.

In the forest, the two kids find a package of cocaine then the bear appeared to attack them. Sari seeks the help of a forest ranger, Liz (Margo Martindale), and a wildlife protector, Peter (Jesse Ferguson.) The bear attacks them but Liz manages to get back to her to office to ask for help. 

We meet many other characters and we don’t have to mention them all to you. 

They all encounter the bear and the question is: who will die and who will survive?  In real life, the bear died after consuming so much cocaine. 

It was found in Northern Georgia along with 40 plastic containers of cocaine. 

Its body has been preserved through taxidermy and is still on display in a mall in Kentucky where it’s called the Cocaine Bear and also nicknamed as Pablo Esco-bear, after the notorious Colombian drug lord.   

The movie is quite well crafted but a darkly hilarious comedy-thriller.  

The way the bear killed many of its victims is definitely gruesome and scarily violent, making some scenes a veritable blood bath with limbs being dismembered, bodies disemboweled and heads decapitated. 

But if you like watching such gory stuff, our guess is you might even enjoy and have a blast. 

If you had a somewhat perverted sense of fun seeing how Leonardo D’Caprio suffered in the hands of a grizzly in “The Revenant”, then you’d definitely appreciate this more as the “Cocaine Bear” as it is more wildly entertaining and has a lot more victims and not just Leonardo.

Director Elizabeth Banks (best known as Effie in “The Hunger Games” and, as a director, for the “Pitch Perfect” movies) knows the movie can be silly and ludicrous with its high body count and many plot contrivances to put the human on the path of the truly menacing animal. 

But Banks makes no apologies in her efforts to make you howl with laughter while watching it, and also cringe with both terror and disgust at the same time as the bear tears its victims into pieces.

The movie has so many oddball characters and honestly, there are some scenes where we are actually sympathizing and rooting for the bear that is on a fast-paced rampage. 

After all, it didn’t ask for the drugs that just fell from the sky and you can’t blame the bear for being curious.

The human characters can really be so foolish and stupid you feel they deserve to be mangled by the bear turned junkie! 

Are we being gleefully sadistic? See the movie and find out for yourself. 

But if you’re squeamish, then just go watch “Paddington” instead as it has a more friendly bear. But yes, the CGI on this bear that goes berserk is spot on. He surely looks so real on screen.