Rated: R
Release Date: 02/24/2023
Production Company: Universal Pictures

Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale and Ray Liotta.

Director: Elizabeth Banks. Producers: Elizabeth Banks, Brian Duffield, Max Handelman, Nancy Honeycutt, Macdara Kelleher, John Keville, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Francis O'Reilly, Aditya Sood, Christine Sun and Matt Reilly. Executive Producers: Nikki Baida, Robin Mulcahy, Fisichella and Alison Small. Screenwriter: Jimmy Warden.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"Cocaine Bear," the deliriously entertaining dark comedy from director/co-producer Elizabeth Banks, (TV's "The Boys") and screenwriter Jimmy Warden ("The Babysitter" and "Borderline"), has all the makings of a box office hit. The title alone is the big draw, but the trailers for "Cocaine Bear" and the fact that it's "loosely based" on a true story, makes it an easy sell.

Set in 1985, “Cocaine Bear” centers around a pilot/drug smuggler named Andrew C. Thornton II, (Matthew Rhys, TV's "Perry Mason") who realizes he has to lighten his Cessna plane's load during his run to Colombia. As he's flying over Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, he starts throwing bricks of cocaine from the plane, loses his footing, knocks himself out and plummets to his death when his parachute fails to open. He was found in the backyard of a south Knoxville, Tenn. home.

As crazy as it sounds, a 500-pound female black bear stumbles upon one of his duffel bags of cocaine and eats it. The bear suddenly starts acting bizarre.

The real story is that the bear didn't kill anyone. He simply died from a cocaine overdose. Leave it to Hollywood to take this fascinating story to a whole new level. Here, the bear goes on a serious, bloody killing rampage while in search of the white stuff. He's a straight up addict now.

Cocaine Bear first sets his sights on two nature loving tourists/hikers, Olaf (Kristofer Hivju, TV's "Beck") and Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra, "Faithfully Yours"). One of them is mauled. This bear is just getting started.

Sari, (an incredibly good, Keri Russell, "Antlers"), a registered nurse and overly protective mother to her young, rebellious, and school-skipping daughter Dee Dee (Brooklyn Prince, TV's "Home Before Dark") has headed to the woods to find her and her friend Henry (Christian Convery, TV's "Sweet Tooth") before Cocaine Bear does.

Meanwhile, Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr., TV's "The Now" and "Swagger") ) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich, "Fair Play"), have been instructed by Eddie’s angry drug kingpin father, Syd (the late Ray Liotta, TV's "Black Bird") ) to find the missing cocaine or else. Their search leads them to some gang members: Aaron Holliday (TV's "Euphoria"), J.B. Moore (TV's "Young Wallender") and Leo Hanna ("Joyride"), who attack Daveed.

Then Daveed and Eddie run into a Tennessee detective (a funny Isiah Whitlock Jr., DA 5 Bloods") who is investigating Thornton’s death.

When everyone soon discovers that there's a crazed bear on the loose, park ranger Liz (a hilarious Margo Martindale, TV's "Mrs. Davis") and her animal rights activist friend, Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, TV's "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series") try to handle the situation, but they wind up getting handled in a major way. So do the paramedics, Scott Seiss ("Shortcomings") and (Kahyun Kim, "Love Island/Fire Island") that arrive to the station.

Elizabeth Banks gets the most from her all-star cast who appear all in on this wild ride. Martindale is my favorite. Yet, the big star of this show is paws down, that massive, terrifying, and life-like bear.

"Cocaine Bear" is quite a rush.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Look At This Trailer For "COCAINE BEAR"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Year Released: 1975
Running Time: 109
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Berry Gordy, Tony Richardson and Jack Wormser
Director of Photography: David Watkin
Screenwriter: John Byrum and Toni Amber
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to?
Do you know?
Do you get what you're hoping for? When you look behind you, there's no open doors. What are you hoping for? Do you know? "Theme from Mahogany...
The "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" was sung by Diana Ross in the 1975 movie "Mahogany." But, who initially recorded the song in 1973?
"Roberta Flack"
"Natalie Cole"
"Deniece Williams"
"Thelma Houston"