Movie Review: Cocaine Bear

What is an example of a dark comedy that is not funny and is too dark? “Cocaine Bear” which was released today. Why would anyone think that heads decapitated, limbs bitten off, heads blown off, and people disemboweled is somehow humorous, even under an excuse umbrella of something that is called a dark comedy? The cardinal sin of all advertised comedy movies are those that are supposed to be funny and are never funny. This one is one of the all-time champions of very unfunny comedy movies, mainly because the deaths are way too disturbing to ever be considered funny even for a very dark comedy.

In 1985 in Georgia, a drug smuggler dropped bags of cocaine into a forest from an airplane and this movie tries to speculate what would happen if a black bear found this cocaine and got high. How anyone could consider this a viable movie idea, is anyone’s guess. The real fact is that there was a bear that ate some cocaine in the 1980s but died immediately because that is what happens when a bear eats too much cocaine. I found the scenes of violence and death extremely disturbing throughout this mostly bad movie. It is also a shame that the last movie the highly respected late actor Ray Liotta made was this low-level film. According to IMDB Liotta died of natural causes at only age 67, but maybe his regret over taking this small part in a bad B movie could have caused him too much stress at the end because this was one bad decision at the end of a distinguished career in film-making. The problem with acting always is to find that one miracle script that is so hard to write and may never get through the politics and the middle men that dominate the movie industry and far too often, greenlight the wrong scripts.

Cocaine Bear movie stars Keri Russell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, Kristofer Hivju, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, and the late Ray Liotta. For the most part, I was surprised at all of the well-known actors in this film agreed to make this movie, mostly because a dark comedy is supposed to be funny at some point, and this film did not achieve any funny high notes.

Cocaine Bear was the third film directed by Elizabeth Banks and unfortunately, her first 3 movies including Pitch Perfect 3, Charlies Angels, and this mostly bad film, are not good starting points.

This is not a movie for any children to see and there will probably be some parents who will think that the bear on cocaine is cute and will be horrified at some of the scenes and will have to quickly escort their children out of the movie theater.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie are too high 72% with my rating in the 50% range and a solid miss.

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

One of the many problems with the latest Ant-Man movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is that within 10 minutes of this film, the rest of the scenes take place within this strange Quantum universe. This means that with this many special effects for 90% of the movie, you enter a state of special effects overload – before this film is half over. Once again, the producers threw out any idea of a good story or screenplay and just came up with insane special effects first and then filled in the story later. Unfortunately, there are way too many action movies that go this same wrong route; all of them forgetting that it is always the story first, with good dialogue, including some kind of a message. Nonstop explosions, strange creatures, and insane scenes will never be a substitute for good ideas and a story.

As far as any kind of a story, there really isn’t one here, just a series of conflicts and fight scenes. The only bright spot is the acting of Jonathan Majors, who plays the main villain in this movie. Majors has recently proven that he is an up-and-coming star in the film industry, also appearing in the recent film “Devotion”, reviewed in this blog. He also appears in the new Creed 3 film, releasing in early March, directed by Michael B. Jordan. Majors has a subtle and impressive charisma in several scenes, within the rare moments that are not about crazy and insane special effects.

This latest Ant-Man movie just might be the last one, due to the low 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the poor screenplay. All of the previous cast members appear again, including Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd who plays Scott Lang, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kathryn Newton who plays Lang’s daughter. Unfortunately, this latest version seems to be about the same, with small variations from the previous 2 Ant-Man films, but with many more insane special effects that get very old within the first hour.

This time around the Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a correct 48% and I agree with this number and do not recommend this film, even for the most die-hard Marvel fans.

Movie Review: Marlowe

It has become over the last 12 or so years an annual tradition where Liam Neeson comes out with a new movie around this time of year. The movie is either bad or not very good and the critics give it mostly a bad rating and then, the predictable cycle of a new bad movie happens again around this time next year.

In terms of a great and very relatable action movie, Neeson’s movie “Taken”, released in 2008 is just about the best one ever made. The ending, where his character rescues his daughter after a series of extremely well-made action scenes where he fights criminals in the sex-slavery business in France, is one of the most emotional and relatable ending scenes I have ever seen in any movie. “Taken 2”, was a very solid sequel released 4 years later, and “Taken 3”, was a mostly bad movie, all about making money and not about quality. Unfortunately, Taken 3 ruined the entire Taken movie franchise.

In 2009, Liam Neeson tragically lost his wife, actress Natasha Richardson in a very tragic and fluke skiing accident, where she fell and because of brain swelling, they eventually had to take her off life support. My theory on Neeson and his making movie after movie after this tragedy is that by working, he is trying to distract himself from accepting the loss of his wife in a freak accident. The problem always is that there are so few high-quality screenplays, that making movie after movie without regard to quality might one day ruin an acting career.

The problem with the new movie Marlowe is it is a pale comparison to two Robert Mitchum Phillip Marlowe movies made in 1975 and 1978. This new version is all about a long series of boring conversations where Phillip Marlowe, played by Neeson, is trying to find someone for his client Clare Cavendish, played by Diane Kruger, and her mother Dorothy Cavendish, played by Jessica Lange. With so much boring dialogue and not nearly enough action scenes, it is easy to lose interest or just dose off with a story like this. The story is convoluted and too complicated with too many characters, another problem with this film.

Trying to figure out why 3 highly respected actors could read this boring script and then agree to make the movie, is the same reason as the recent “Maybe I Do”, where well-known actors take a part regardless of quality, only to stay relevant in Hollywood. Rex Reed said it best with this review of Maybe I Do on Rotten Tomatoes: “Maybe I Do is another sad example of what happens to seasoned pros when they hang around long enough to end up in material that is regrettably beneath them. They want to work to keep flagging careers alive, but with worthy vehicles, so few and far between, they’re forced to accept whatever lean projects come their way.

The bottom line is always that a great screenplay is rare and waiting around for that great one that may never happen, might end your career as an actor, just as easily as making too many bad movies. This is clearly a lose-lose problem with being an actor in Hollywood, that in so many cases is more about fluke luck than anything else.

The very low 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for this film this time around is very accurate. This one is a solid miss.