AV Brew: Cocaine Bear
Delightfully insane. Laugh out loud funny. Surprisingly heartwarming. Cocaine Bear is an unexpected gem. Full of warmth and humor, for every scene that has you laughing your head off there’s an organic and unforced moment of genuine heart. At several points you’re either rooting for everyone from the bear, who didn’t ask for the situation; to Sari and the kids who have no idea how they ended up in the middle of a drug war; to Eddie and Daveed the two best friends and brothers in all but blood who have been forced into this mess by their insane father, Syd.
In fact, one of the ongoing themes of the film is family and all the joys and problems that come with it. Whether you’re a good parent, like Keri Russell’s Sari, who will go through hell and high water for her child and anyone else’s or a truly terrible father like Ray Liotta’s Syd, who is utterly terrifying in his last performance before his death, and has trapped his boys into a life neither wanted, you can’t escape your family. However, you can choose to be better.
Director Elizabeth Banks deftly handles the surprisingly emotional beats of this movie, of which there are many, with the inherent humor and terror of the situation. She’s ably helped by a cast that came to play and fully understood the assignment. With a film like this, it is very easy to wink at the camera, in fact it would be expected, yet at no point do you feel like the actors or director are doing so. The reason the movie works, and I fully credit Banks for this, is that the characters don’t know they’re in a movie. For them the stakes and consequences are very real and very deadly. The humor comes from their reactions and from the absolute gore that comes from a bear on cocaine.
Speaking of gore, Banks is having a grand time showing the bloody fallout of the situation and you guys, I have not laughed so much in a theatre in a long time. As my mom, who joined me for this one, said ‘It’s very Tucker and Dale vs Evil and I’m here for it.’
The cast is phenomenal from start to finish with a bunch of actors who have, historically, not gotten the credit for just how good they are at their craft having a complete ball with the standouts being Alden Ehrenreich, who proves once again that his turn in Solo was undermined by far too much executive meddling; O’Shea Jackson Jr whose big, sad, brown eyes convey so much and Aaron Holiday as Stache who is a delight and that’s before the three of them are thrown together by the circumstances. I would seriously watch a film with just these three being adorable together, right now.
Overall, Cocaine Bear is everything I didn’t know I wanted in a film ‘inspired by true events’ and frankly, I’m ready to go see it again.
4.5 duffel bags out of 5
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