With a title emphasizing that her project takes an abrupt unpaved path from most movies in the “jaws and claws” or “chomp romp” genre, director Elizabeth Banks makes gore seem like the kind of gooey clay kids love to run their hands through—splatter for fun. Genre fans find plenty to giggle over without worrying about any downers of a serious message other than habitat concerns that arise when cocaine falls from the sky. Vaguely justifying the poster’s boastful line, “inspired by true events,” writer Jimmy Warden uses a couple of realities as a springboard into “what if” fantasy—what if the real bear didn’t die from an overdose and instead went into erratic frenzies around people? As for reality: Yes, a botched drug delivery once sent a bunch of cocaine dropping from the sky into a forest. And yes, a bear ate some of it. And yes, people called it “Cocaine Bear.” Using vivid imaginations, writer Warden and director Banks send their pretend bear on a rampage of drug addled behavior, which often involves depriving humans of various limbs. With a muffled “yum yum yum” coming from the bear as she rips and tears into cocaine packets or people, nothing comes off as serious. Director Banks boasts good creds as both actress and director in amusing projects like the Pitch Perfect series and gives her strong cast freedom to match the bear’s enthusiasm in chomping up scenery. Outrageousness always suited the talent of cast member Ray Liotta, and others like Margo Martindale jump right in the slimy mix. Motion capture performer Allan Henry provides effective facial expressions and a few other traits for the mostly CGI title character, whose drug fueled state means she never needs to pass for a normal bear in the wild. For those seeking reality, you can do some set jetting and view the story’s stuffed inspiration at the Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington. The bear bears the plaque “Cocaine Bear” but also goes by the name Pablo Escobear. Really. In another element of reality, you can get some good—preferably bear-free—hiking in the story’s Chattahoochee setting, but filming took place in Dublin and
Counties, which seems like a good excuse to visit Ireland.