Monday , May 20 2024

Blu-ray Review: ‘Cocaine Bear’ – Directed by Elizabeth Banks

The so-called “Maximum Rampage” edition of Cocaine Bear is available now, courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. It’s the third film directed by actress and producer Elizabeth Banks, following Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and the Charlie’s Angels (2019) reboot. You can’t manufacture a cult classic. Many have tried. It must happen organically. Banks tries gamely with Cocaine Bear and the result is exactly what one would expect. The whole thing feels like forced “fun.”

The real-life inspiration was a black bear who, in 1985, happened upon a duffel bag loaded with cocaine. The drugs had been offloaded mid-flight by a drug smuggler who was piloting a small aircraft. Depending upon one’s sense of humor, it might strike some as funny that the bear died after ingesting an ungodly amount of the drug.

For me, personally, it’s not amusing. What a tragic way for a bear to unwittingly lose its life. Maybe that tainted my opinion of Cocaine Bear even before seeing it. Yes, it definitely did. It’s incredibly sad that this bear (whose taxidermied body is on display at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington—“fun,” really?) perished in such a manner.

Anyway, Banks and her cohorts saw it differently, hence their attempt to craft an instant cult favorite. But even looking past any tastelessness in the premise, it’s clear the filmmakers (including screenwriter Jimmy Warden) didn’t put much thought into the endeavor beyond the basic premise. Bear loses its mind after getting zonked on coke. Mayhem ensues. People are ripped apart.

The result is an A-list-driven piece of grade-Z schlock. Among the cast, which is led by Keri Russell, Ray Liotta shows up in a supporting role that sadly turned out to be one of his last. Not much of note happens, but if you want to see a CG bear wreak havoc on a rural town populated by a bunch of “quirky” characters, this might be your ticket.

Special features on this Universal Blu-ray release includes a producer-director’s commentary track by Elizabeth Banks, accompanied by co-producer Max Handelman. Sampling the track, it’s clear that fans of the film will find plenty of worthwhile tidbits here. There’s a gag reel, a short alternate ending, a handful of deleted scenes.

The pair of short featurettes aren’t likely to be returned to often, even by the film’s most ardent supporters. “All Roads Lead to Cokey: The Making of Cocaine Bear” is the better option, adding a little background about the events that inspired the movie. “Unbearable Bloodbath: Dissecting the Kills” shines a spotlight on the gorier moments. Both featurettes clock in at under 10 minutes.

The package also includes a standard DVD and a Digital HD download code.

About The Other Chad

An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."

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