Though inspired by a thing that happened, Cocaine Bear is really a fictional monster movie where you hope the monster wins. Some of the human characters are just there to get eaten by the creature and others you really really want to get their [select piece of human anatomy] ripped off by a thoroughly ripped black bear.

The movie itself is almost a B-Movie script with a really good cast and an appropriate budget. It is hilarious. The characters are a bit cartoony in composition but their actions are organic and reasonable for the situations they find themselves in. Faced with the bear, the ambulance driver shoves her patient in the “bus” gets in and leaves — her teammate behind. Two kids find a brick of cocaine and know what it is, because — set in the eighties — we used to actually teach kids what drugs looked like.

Some scenes are hyperviolent and overtly bloody, but it is to a darkly comical level. Hands and heads are ripped off without being stomach turning. At the same time, proper moulage is used on an almost survivor’s backside. I mean: we don’t really want the bear to eat the kids or hurt the fancy show dog in her rather expensively groomed “show coat”, but you are rooting for the bear. (Spoiler: the dog does not get hurt.)

Director Elizabeth Banks does an excellent job assembling a weird mix of monster movie, slasher film, family acceptance story and makes it just silly fun. The music is disjointed in a way that amps up the silliness.

As Ray Liotta’s last completed film project, it serves as a great bookend for his career. We came to know him in Goodfellas where he played a basically decent but bad guy whose world comes apart because he gets involved in dealing cocaine. He goes out with an hilarious bang in Cocaine Bear as a basically decent bad guy whose world comes apart because he’s in the cocaine trade — and there’s a bear.