3.5/10 Director Elizabeth Banks had a promising start with her feature length directorial debut with 2015’s “Pitch Perfect 2”. Unfortunately for everyone, she followed it up with the horrendous “Charlie’s Angels” (3/10) reboot in 2019 before taking a few years away from directing to continue acting. Banks returns with “Cocaine Bear” which may have the slimmest connection to a true story ever put to celluloid. The true story was a 175 to 200 pound American black bear (it’s always the black ones getting into drugs, isn’t it? Just kidding, folks, just kidding!) found dead in Georgia back on September 11th 1985 (never forget!) when cocaine had been thrown from a twin engine, light aircraft and landed in a forest. The bear only had three to four grams of cocaine in its bloodstream before it died. Since a bear overdosing on cocaine would make for an incredibly short movie, Banks and screenwriter Jimmy Warden stretched the movie to an hour and a half by having the bear survive and go on a cocaine fueled rampage, murdering everyone in her path. The movie is meant to be ridiculous (as it should be) but the problem is that the movie just isn’t funny enough considering the potential for hilarity that comes with this story. We also get too much time wasted on underdeveloped human characters who we don’t care enough about. Keri Russell’s (Sari) son Henry (Christian Convery) has dialogue that sounds in no way how kids his age actually talk (“That kinda seems like a thing that stays with a man forever” is just one example). The movie is almost trying too hard to be the equivalent of a meme by winking and nodding at the audience and doesn’t embrace how outlandish it could have been. I wanted Banks to push the movie way harder than she did. There is a great and gory scene involving an ambulance chase that was what I was hoping for but the rest of the movie never goes that hard and it should have. Besides that ambulance chase scene, there are a few other aspects to admire. CGI animals are incredibly hard to pull off as they never seem to look life like but the bear in this movie actually looked pretty incredible so I have to give props to the visual effects department(s) on this one. A few performances stood out like Alden Ehrenreich as Eddie, the depressed son of Ray Liotta’s Syd (kind of depressing that this was Liotta’s last role before his death and he is going out on a low note, despite that being no fault of his own). The other stand out performance for me was an almost unrecognizable Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Peter, who was highly entertaining. With the shorter running time, the movie did have solid pacing and a catchy, era appropriate soundtrack. Unfortunately, when other ridiculous movies like “Sharknado” and “Birdemic” are much funnier and more entertaining than this on way smaller budgets, you’ve done something wrong. There just aren’t enough laughs from Warden’s script and Banks’ direction is way more reserved than it should be here. While getting drunk or high and watching this might make it more enjoyable if you are into that, this movie ended up being more underwhelming than what it could have been.

#BearlyFunny / #SariThisWasntBetter / #CokeyTheBear / #Cokescreen / #SydAndNasty / #WoodFellas

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