COCAINE BEAR Review — It Doesn’t Blow, But It’s No Big Rush

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Lisa Johnson Mandell’s Cocaine Bear review says it’s not the outrageous horror comedy viewers anticipated, but it’s not unbearable. 

Cocaine Bear reviewThe title alone sounds ridiculous, but I was willing to embrace the stupid. From the non-stop promotion and hype, I envisioned a bloody, campy laugh and scream fest, something like Bears on a Plane, Bearnedo, or maybe a whole franchise like Beary Movie.

The cast also gave me hope. Respected actors like Keri Russel, Margo Martindale, O’Shea Jackson Jr.Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ray Liotta (in one of his last released movies) all signed up for it, and if they were willing to go there, so was I.

I also thought the premise was clever. In the mid 1980’s a DEA agent turned drug smuggler crashed his private plane full of cocaine in Georgia’s Chatahoochie National Forest. Several weeks later, the body of a bear was found in the area, near a coke smeared duffle bag. An autopsy found that it had died of acute cocaine intoxication.

Cocaine Bear is the story of what could have happened if the bear went on a drug induced rampage. It ties in a couple of kids, European hikers, a human mama bear, drug dealers, first responders, rangers and some low-rent thugs.

With all that in mind and only an hour and a half run time, I thought I’d be in for some first class schlock, if there is such a thing.

Now Cocaine Bear does have its moments, flying, severed limbs and an outrageous ambulance ride among them. But the expected, high level of low, raucous humor seems to have been above (or below) director Elizabeth Banks‘ reach.

The timing was off, with long stretches of dull nothingness interspersed between the all too few moments of high hilarity. And what was supposed to pass for suspense seemed more like banal filler.

But perhaps, most egregious of all to me personally, is that it totally spoiled my favorite hot pink jumpsuit that I got at Athleta last Spring. Russell wears one very much like it throughout the movie, and I feel I can no longer wear it in public without people shaking their heads and muttering “CBM!” (Cocaine Bear Mama). I shudder to think.

Cocaine Bear Review: Trailer

Rated R

1 Hour 35 Minutes

If, after reading this Cocaine Bear review, you’re for some reason inclined to rush out to the cineplex to see it, find times and tickets at

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s Cocaine Bear review says it’s not the outrageous horror comedy viewers anticipated, but it’s not unbearable. 



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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and seen on Rotten Tomatoes. She is the author of three bestselling books, and spends as much of her free time as possible with her husband Jim and her jolly therapy Labradoodle Frankie Feldman.


  1. Susan Kehoe on February 27, 2023 at 6:48 am

    The bear died by the suitcase and was found badly decomposed two weeks later. No truth to killing rampage. Sensationalism of the bear to instill fear for the Great American Black Bear. How about writing an uplifting story about them. That’s what the world needs now!

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