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St. Olaf Reviews: “Cocaine Bear” blends comedy and gore for an entertaining watch


“Cocaine Bear” follows a black bear who does cocaine after a drug smuggler dropped millions of dollars worth from a plane passing over a national forest. This is loosely inspired by the real story of an American black bear that ingested nearly 75 pounds of lost cocaine. While the real story of the bear ends quickly with a fatal overdose, the fictional cocaine bear (or “Cokey”) goes on a wild drug-fueled rampage.

The comedy horror film includes heavy gore but is self-aware of its campier bits, like Cokey doing a line off of the leg she tore from a park ranger. As confirmed in the film, Cokey is a female bear and mother to two cubs, who she provides a duffle bag of cocaine for. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the film spends a considerable amount of time not focusing on Cokey. Much of the plot follows stories only partially surrounding her rampage, with subplots ranging from young children skipping school to paint a waterfall to a pair of drug dealers sent on a reconnaissance mission for the missing cocaine. We are introduced to numerous characters who are played by renowned actors like Jesse Tyler-Ferguson, Margo Martindale, and the late Ray Liotta. Viewers don’t get to spend long with many of these character as a significant amount ultimately meet terribly bloody deaths. There is a LOT of gore throughout the film, with highlights including the ranger station scene or the ambulance scene (if you know, you know). With so many characters and plots to cleanse your palate, if any one section get to be too much, the film keeps you engaged without being too grossed out. 

I would recommend “Cocaine Bear” to an audience who is not easily upset by the violence and is willing to embrace how silly or unrealistic the scenes are. If you think seeing someone get disemboweled by cocaine-covered cubs or a bear swallowing an entire brick of cocaine whole would be too much, this is probably not the film for you.

While it was often humorous, the film elicited a variety of reactions from the theater. People went from screaming to crying to laughing to covering their eyes. As said in “Cocaine Bear,” watching the film “seems like the kind of thing that stays with a man forever.” I would rate the film 4.5/5 Bear (Big) Oles.

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