As a society, we will now mark time as "Before Cocaine Bear" and "After Cocaine Bear." This is due to the transformative power of the movie, which, while not necessarily profound, is a thrilling and entertaining experience, especially when seen with a large crowd. The communal experience of "Cocaine Bear" will bring people together and save cinema. The film knows exactly what it is and does it well, with a high-concept, wild-animal premise that delivers precisely what the title suggests.

Screenwriter Jimmy Warden takes the true story of a black bear in Georgia that ingested cocaine dropped by a smuggler in 1985 and imagines what might have happened if the bear had not died but instead became hooked on the drug. An eclectic ensemble of hikers, rangers, criminals, and police officers get in the bear's way and suffer the consequences, including a mocking montage of "Just Say No" PSAs from the 1980s, including one from First Lady Nancy Reagan herself.

Much of the joy of “Cocaine Bear” comes from the look of the creature itself, which is surprisingly high-tech for a cheesy, silly movie. She’s been brought to life through a motion capture performance by stuntman Allan Henry and CGI from the legendary New Zealand house Weta FX. They’ve definitely amped up the movements and anthropomorphized the animal to a knowing extreme, but they achieve enough realism to make the bear’s attacks harrowing. You’ll laugh and squeal throughout, but you’ll also scream and squirm. The violence is often so graphic and so gory. Some of the gnarliest moments come not from the bear herself, but rather from all of these people being stupid and finding other ways to get injured. For that reason and so many more, you’ll probably also find yourself rooting for the bear to succeed. She’s just so gleeful as she tears into brick after brick and gets a big whiff of the white stuff up her snoot. The ways in which she ingests cocaine are often quite clever, including doing a line off a leg she’s just severed. And one sequence, in particular, involving the marauding bear, a fleeing ambulance, and Depeche Mode’s catchy “Just Can’t Get Enough” is a tour de force of pacing and tone. Speaking of music, Mark Mothersbaugh’s score adds the perfect synth touch to these antics; similarly, the period-specific needle drops, costume, and production design are on point without being obvious parodies. The posters that adorn the teenage Prince’s walls are especially inspired

The movie begins in the e

xcess of the era, with an unrecognizable Matthew Rhys dumping duffel bags of cocaine in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. The search for the drugs brings together an unlikely group of characters, including drug dealers, a police detective, park rangers, teenagers, and a single mom looking for her daughter. The bear's appearance and movements are a technical marvel, with motion capture and CGI creating a realistic and anthropomorphized creature that delivers harrowing attacks.

The violence in the movie is graphic and gory, but the bear's gleeful antics and clever methods of ingesting cocaine make it hard not to root for her success. One particular sequence involving the bear, an ambulance, and Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" is a tour de force of pacing and tone. The score and production design are also spot-on, with period-specific details that avoid being obvious parodies.

The only disappointment in "Cocaine Bear" is when the filmmakers break from the action to make us care about the characters as actual people. Standout supporting players do evolve in surprising ways, but it's clear that the main attraction is the titular bear on a murderous rampage in the forest.

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