Thursday, April 13, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Cocaine Bear

On a pleasant day in 1985 outside Tennessee in the United States, within the confines of the Chattahoochee National Forest, a 175-pound black bear, having literally packed his stomach “to the brim” with cocaine, died.

You read correctly: The 2023 horror-comedy Cocaine Bear is based on a real event – well, loosely. Cocaine bear existed, though fleetingly. He never rampaged, as he fictitiously does in the Elizabeth Banks film. Instead, he burned bright and quickly, overdosing on $2 million worth of 40 kilograms (roughly $55 million USD) of pure, white, Columbian marching powder. What a way to go. To quote Shakespeare: “Out, out, brief candle!”

For all that, he earnt him an immortal place in Kentucky folklore -- and a prime spot in Lexington mall. Taxedermied in an eternal vigil between vending machines and mechanical rocking horses. Locals dance between the nicknames of ‘Pablo Eskobear’ or ‘Cokey the Bear’.

Now, his legacy has transcended to the big screen. This time, he’s 500-pounds, this time, he doesn’t die when he consumes an ‘80s Stephen King’s helping worth of cocaine, he goes on a drug-fuelled riot. Much like predecessors of its kind (Snakes on A Plane comes most clearly to mind), the film is an excuse for gory ultraviolence, but unlike the 2006 film it shares a high concept with, Cocaine Bear is here for the laughs.

The bear stumbles across a cartel’s lost packages of cocaine and goes manic -- it’s pure B-Movie (bear movie, perhaps?) schlock, and it’s outrageously fun for it. Head to the cinema expecting a massive animal on cocaine and you’ll leave with expectations met. It fulfills its title promise with aplomb.

Cocaine Bear (MA15+) will begin screening at The Bowen Summergarden Cinema on April 22.

Director Elizabeth Banks’ film Cocaine Bear is majestically absurd and how couldn’t it be?

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