‘Cocaine Bear’ or — Okay-aine Bear?

Colin Edwards
2 min readFeb 26, 2023

I’d deliberately kept my expectations low for ‘Cocaine Bear’ (2023) because the concept and trailer were both so cool I didn’t want to risk over-hyping it in my head. And I did a pretty good job until, on the day I went to see it, someone told me they hoped it was “like ‘Tremors’ but with a bear on cocaine.” Uh-ho. Now it had a high-bar to clear and it’s not just that ‘Cocaine Bear’ isn’t as good as the perfection that is ‘Tremors’ (1990) but that this specific comparison explicitly highlights why ‘Cocaine Bear’ doesn’t quite succeed the way its worm counterpart does.

And the reason is this — ‘Tremors’ has one of the tightest and most beautifully structured plots you could wish for. Every element is set-up, exploited and paid-off with precision so as soon as the film starts it’s like watching an elaborate mechanism’s pieces satisfyingly click into place. ‘Cocaine Bear’, on the other hand, lacks this systemic cohesion and rigour resulting in a stop/start effect which prevents the whole from really taking off, and for a movie about a bear on cocaine that’s a tad exasperating.

Now this isn’t to say ‘Cocaine Bear’ isn’t a relatively enjoyable experience but the inability for the narrative to build up a decent head of steam results in a film that deflates as opposed to deliriously exploding in your face. So it meanders when it should pounce and strolls when it should attack.

Not only that but it feels surprisingly restrained. Sure, there’s a few moments of gore, mayhem and carnage but the overall tone is so reined in the movie feels less under the crazy influence of that white powder and more the soporific effects of weed. I kept waiting for the film to burst into life, grab me by the neck and toss me about the cinema till I was bloodied and bruised but, instead, it kinda just sat there looking at me and pawed at me a little before slowly trundling off back into the woods. This was not quite the rampant maniac I had expected, or wanted, it to be.

‘Cocaine Bear’ is far from a totally unsatisfying experience but narratively it’s certainly slack and, surprisingly, the word I’d use to describe it is somewhat disappointing for a movie about an apex predator on stimulating narcotics — it’s shockingly “sedate”.

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Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.