Cocaine Bear review – Banks’s retelling of a true story falls short

I can’t remember a thing about the plot but I do recall a great horse-based chase scene involving Kristen Stewart in a pink jockey outfit. Four years after it flopped at the box office, the actress-turned-writer-director is back with an even riskier proposition – a horror comedy.

Mixing gore and laughs is far more difficult than camping up a 70s TV series. For every classic like An American Werewolf in London, there are 20 belly flops like Strippers vs Werewolves.

With this one, I’ll probably remember snorting with laughter at a sequence involving a coked-up bear tearing after an ambulance. Sadly, the dialogue can be a little hairy too.

It’s loosely based on true events. The body of drug smuggler Andrew Thornton (briefly played by Matthew Rhys) was found in 1985 after he leapt from a plane with 35kg of cocaine strapped to his body.

On his way, he’d dumped 40 bags of coke in a national park in Georgia, one of which was stumbled upon by a black bear who ingested it, dropped dead, and lived a second life as a stuffed tourist attraction.

In Cocaine Bear, he not only survives but goes on a drug-fuelled killing spree.

Within sniffing range are a park ranger (Margo Martindale), a pair of truant schoolkids (Brooklynn Prince and Christian Convery) and a worried mum (Keri Russell).

When the smuggler’s parachute fails to open and his corpse makes the local news, the drug boss (Ray Liotta in his final role) sends his son (Alden Ehrenreich) and an accomplice (O’Shea Jackson Jr) into the firing line to retrieve the coke.

As the bear chases the gang, a local detective (The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr) sets off to the mountains to collar the criminals.

That’s a lot of characters and Banks doesn’t give us a reason to care about any of them. The jokes, weirdly, are a lot more scarce.

Too often, Banks tries too hard to shock when she should be hitting us with sharp lines and visual gags.

Like many human adherents of the white powder, this ursine addict can be a bit of a bore.

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