starring Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ray Liotta
screenplay by Jimmy Warden
directed by Elizabeth Banks
by Walter Chaw The first 45 minutes or so of Elizabeth Banks's Cocaine Bear deliver everything the title promises: A bear, behaving erratically, mauls European hikers and precocious children daring one another to eat a tablespoon of what Jay McInerney would know as Bolivian Marching Powder. The last 45 minutes are an enervated slog heavy on convention and eager to pull all the punches the film was landing with malicious glee in the first half. It's almost as though a switch is flipped right around the time a pair of hapless paramedics, Beth (Kahyun Kim) and Tom (meme-meister Scott Seiss), stumble on a terrible scene before becoming the centrepiece of another--almost as though a decision was made to suddenly try to carve out a coherent three-act structure from agreeably bloody chaos. To what end? To make a play for awards-season consideration? To appease some imaginary audience coming to Cocaine Bear for an adventure story with not one happy ending but two? The only audience it's ultimately pandering to are non-creatives with a say in the process, congratulating themselves for forcing a movie about a bear doing murders while tweaking on nose candy to wrap up its various threads in tidy little bows. What a shame.