Things aren’t going well for drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II. Whether it’s because of the 40 bags of cocaine weighing his plane down or the rumor that government authorities are on his tail, he decides to ditch the bags, throwing them out his plane and into the unknown. Then, he accidentally knocks himself out when attempting to skydive out of said aircraft, falling to the ground and dying on impact.
But down below, Olaf and Elsa are having a great day. They’re busy exploring the vast expanses of Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. Their day is made even better when they come across a black bear off in the distance. Elsa’s always wanted to see one.
But then the bear starts to approach them, and Olaf recites the standard hiking advice.
“If it’s black, fight back,” he says. “If it’s brown, lay down.”
That’s when the black bear ferociously mauls Elsa to death, leaving only a severed leg before Olaf.
I guess that advice doesn’t apply when the bear’s on cocaine.
Another character in the film named Sari desperately looks for her daughter, Dee Dee. When she realizes that a demented bear might be prowling around, it only strengthens Sari’s resolve to find her, putting her own life at risk to save Dee Dee’s life.
Henry, a young boy and friend of Dee Dee’s, tries to impress her by saying that he “does cocaine after church.”
As for the titular bear, he’s referenced as a “devil bear.” When cocaine falls from the sky, a man says that “it’s like cocaine Christmas.” A man tells someone that “a truce is on God where I come from.” A man believes that animals and humans are equal in value.
A sign makes a sexual innuendo, reading, “Visit the original glory hole.” A female park ranger flirts with an oblivious man. The man looks at a dirty statue, commenting “you’ve got a dusty beaver.” The woman responds, “I’m working on that.”
Two people kiss. A man says “I want to make a child with that person.” After the bear falls asleep on top of a man, he comments that it’s a female, and he knows because its genitals are on his ear.
Cocaine Bear is a gratuitously gory movie that just might make you sick to your stomach. Even typing some of the events of the film out below makes me feel a little queasy myself. All in all, expect a full anatomy class complete with gallons of blood and guts.
Within the first 10 minutes, viewers witness a bloody, severed leg—all that remains of the hopped-up bear’s first victim. And believe me, there’s a lot more where that came from: one person dies when the bear gruesomely tears into his body, and blood gushes from the wound. A man’s stomach is slashed open, and his entrails spill out. He’s still alive, and the bear’s cubs eat his entrails while he watches. A teenager is found decapitated by the bear with his face clawed open and intestines visible, too. Someone else’s body is found with the skin of that person’s face flayed off. A man’s wrist is snapped backward during a mauling. Other people are slashed and bitten, and the wounds are likewise bloody and gruesome.
Still, there’s more: the skin on a woman’s face is torn away when she’s dragged against the road at high speed. A man’s fingers are shot off, and in a post-credits scene, we find out a pet dog ate them (offscreen). A car crash sends a woman flying through the windshield. Another teen is shot in the head, the resulting gaping hole quite evident. Someone is shot in the abdomen, and another person is grazed in the neck. A body (and its severed leg) falls from a tree with a sickening thud.
A gang of violent teenagers attempt to rob a man named Daveed, but Daveed engages in a brutal fistfight with them, knocking them all out with kicks to the head or by knocking their heads against bathroom sinks. We later see that Daveed’s been stabbed in the back of his shoulder, and he patches the wound up.
A man kicks a pair of bear cubs. People shoot at (and occasionally hit) the bear.
The f-word is used nearly 80 times, including two instances that are preceded by “mother.” The s-word is heard almost 35 times. We also hear nearly 20 misuses of God’s name, and four of them are followed by “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused five times, including one time that is followed by the f-word. “H—” is used 10 times, and “a–,” “d–n” and “p-ss” are heard occasionally, too. A crude word for female genitalia is used once. Someone displays a middle finger.
There’s obviously a plethora of references to drugs and drug use here. A man drops bag of cocaine from a plane. We see many of those bags of cocaine throughout the film, including a couple packets that the bear ingests. We also see two bear cubs playing in the substance, too.
Perhaps the most disconcerting, however, is when children Henry and Dee Dee find a package of cocaine and place some of the substance in their mouths. Elsewhere, people also use the cocaine to distract or escape from the bear.
We hear references to a drug cartel. We see antinarcotic commercials. Someone takes a shot of liquor. Sari drinks wine.
A teen steals some candy. Henry and Dee Dee skip school. The bear sneezes on Henry and Dee Dee.
Cocaine Bear, the subject of which a Wikipedia entry somewhat affectionally calls “Pablo Escobear,” is based on a true story. At least, that’s what everyone enjoyed informing me when I mentioned I was going to be reviewing the fuzzy-wuzzy film.
But to say the movie is based on a true story is akin to saying a Slip ‘N Slide is based on a waterfall. Sure, they both have water that propels you to an endpoint, but that’s about it.
The real-life account of the “Cocaine Bear” is pretty simple: a drug smuggler ditched roughly 40 bags of cocaine into the Chattahoochee National Forest. A bear living in the area ate around 34 kilograms (nearly 75 pounds) of it and was found dead, its stomach “packed to the brim with cocaine,” according to the medical examiner’s report. The bear, now taxidermized, resides in a mall in Lexington, Kentucky. End of story.
Not so with its dark comedy counterpart, where we instead watch as the bear goes on a drug-induced rampage, ripping into people (teens included) in a gruesome onscreen style, mimicking the gore in The Walking Dead. Limbs? Detached. Entrails? Exposed. Blood? You betcha. While there are a few jokes in here that are genuinely funny, those comedic payoffs come at the expense of a lot of grimacing.
Of course, we’d still be remiss if we failed to mention that Cocaine Bear is filled to the brim with that narcotic white powder, too. Not only does the bear ingest it, but there are also a couple of children who put the substance in their mouth as a dare. And let’s not forget the predominant exclamation used in the film: the f-word, heard upwards of 80 times.
That’s all to say this: Your brain on Cocaine Bear just might come out looking a bit like a fried egg.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”