2023 still doesn’t sound like a real year, but it’s only one month away. Which means it’s time to talk about the films of 2023 we have to look forward to, beginning and ending with Cocaine Bear. The excellently titled film from Elizabeth Banks got a trailer yesterday, and it is appropriately wild. The film is (very) loosely based on the true story of a bear found dead in the Georgia woods in 1985 after ingesting $15 million worth of cocaine. The bear is just one part of one of true crime’s craziest stories, that of ill-fated drug smuggler Andrew Carter Thornton II, who was found dead in a Knoxville, Tennessee driveway, millions of dollars of coke strapped to his body, after his parachute failed to open. If this sounds familiar, yes, it inspired the Justified season four plot involving Waldo Truth, Drew Thompson, and some missing coke in the Kentucky backwoods.
While Matthew Rhys pops up in the trailer as a guy desperately heaving coke from an airplane, presumably Thornton or a character inspired by him, the trailer for Cocaine Bear is heavy on the bear action. Cocaine Bear reimagines the story if the bear went on a rampage (instead of, apparently, dying almost as soon as he ate the coke), and the movie looks as awesome as that sentence implies. Everything about this movie looks awesome, from the bear action to the talent-strewn cast that includes Keri Russell; Esteemed Character Actress Margo Martindale—making this an unofficial The Americans reunion; Alden Ehrenreich, finally ready to rebound after Solo; Ray Liotta, in one of his final roles; and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. The cast also includes Scott Seiss, best known as that guy on TikTok doing the dramatic customer service videos.
We watched a bunch of those during the holidays and he had everyone laughing. I love whatever editor made this trailer and put in the door gag with Scott Seiss. I love a good door gag, and this is a very good door gag, the timing, Seiss’s delivery, all of it. And good on Elizabeth Banks working her way up as a director to a place where she can make this bonkers movie. She squeezed all the juice she could and then said, “I want to make a movie about the cocaine bear,” and we will never forget her for it. January and February are usually a cinematic desert, but at least we have Cocaine Bear to look forward to in the winter doldrums of 2023.
Check out the trailer, but watch your speaker volume, the language is NSFW.