Cocaine Bear (2023) is a gory comedy – And exactly what the film industry needs.


Heather Prichard

Joel Patrick and Sophia Prichard with Pablo Escobear at the Kentucky Theatre.

Sophia Prichard, Sr. Editor

The formerly perfect movie template, in the tradition of the mid-2010s, was a classic comedy, about 95 minutes of fun and stupidity. It was, according to the internet, completely necessary and inoffense. And we seem to be missing this type of mid-budget fun in the 2020s. Twitter has lamented about the oversatuation of blockbusters and indie projects, which leaves little to no room for simplicity. Each year brings another line up of Marvel films that lack any semblance of artistic value, and about 10 new films that care more about their niche internet merit than their entertainment value. 

The remedy to the current onslaught of arthouse think-pieces is the newest in a long line of pure fun. A movie about the local celebrity, Pablo Escobear, known as Cocaine Bear. I was lucky enough to experience this film in a packed audience at the Kentucky Theatre, a Lexington Institution in its own right. Because of its notoriety, the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall loaned Pablo Escobear to the Theatre, bringing in some of the biggest audiences I’ve seen at The Kentucky since pre-COVID days. 

The film itself? Almost non-stop laughs, scares, and inexplicably hilarious gore scenes. I have difficulty explaining just how much fun this movie truly is, because the experience around it was just as unique and memorable. Being able to take photos with the real Pablo Escobear, to the beautiful interior of the Theatre, I am fully in love with the Kentucky Theatre, which anyone who knows me is already aware of. The only qualms I have are quite simple. 

The pacing of this film is a little awkward, spending a little too much time with rather insignificant details and characters. The opening scene is very cool when it gets to the main boiling point, but it takes a little too long to get there. Once this film gets good, though? It is so much better than I initially expected. The horror element is nothing to understate, with some of the practical effects being so detailed and gory I genuinely gasped. 

If you’re looking for a sign to see Cocaine Bear, this is it!