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COCAINE BEAR: 3 STARS. “the best stoned bear movie of the year.”

Talk about wildlife.

“Cocaine Bear,” a grisly new hybrid of “Scarface” and “Yogi Bear” starring Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Ray Liotta in his last filmed performance, and now playing in theatres, delivers on the promise of its premise. Like “Snakes on a Plane,” another movie whose entire plot was contained in the title, “Cocaine Bear” lives up to its name. There’s a bear and he is tweaked on the devil dust, but is that enough to get people in theatres, or will audiences just say no?

The movie plays fast-and-loose with the true 1985 story of a 79-kilogram American black bear who, while wandering the Georgia wilderness, stumbled across and ate a discarded duffle bag of cocaine. Later nicknamed Pablo Escobear, in real life the poor unfortunate beast overdosed immediately and spent its afterlife stuffed and on display at a local mall.

Director Elizabeth Banks uses the real-life set up as a kick off for her story. In her retelling, drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II (Matthew Rhys), in a bid to avoid police, dumps 40 kilos of cocaine in the forests of Georgia. When the bear finds it and ingests it, instead of keeling over he becomes a character out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, setting off on a bloody, coke fueled rampage through the forest in search of more drugs.

Along the way the Cocaine Bear (one character actually calls him that) gets her paws on a variety of folks, including a concerned mom (Keri Russell), a mob boss (Ray Liotta) and his henchmen (Alden Ehrenreich and Jackson Jr.) and a park ranger (Margo Martindale).

Before buying a ticket to “Cocaine Bear” ask yourself this question: Am I likely to enjoy a movie called “Cocaine Bear”? I can tell you authoritatively that it is the best stoned bear movie of the year. Admittedly, it is a small field, but if that turns your crank, by all means check it out.

If you need convincing, then “Cocaine Bear” may not be for you. On the fence? Read on.

The one-joke premise aside, the movie is a throwback to the slasher films of the 1980s. The gruesome stuff is outlandish, bloody and the kind of thing that you know you shouldn’t be laughing at, but here you are, laughing out loud at the misfortune of others.

Unfortunately, although there is a good vibe between Ehrenreich and Jackson Jr, most other characterization is kept to a bare minimum—many of the characters are essentially sentient slabs of bear food—and the dialogue isn’t nearly as camp or funny as it should be. It feels choppy—there is a good pun to be made here about chopping up lines of cocaine, but I’m too lazy to make it—and the gaps between the action sequences stretch on a bit too long.

However, “Cocaine Bear” has quite a few solid laughs. That makes up for the lack of satire or deeper meaning. This isn’t about anything other than truth in advertising. It’s about a bear and a bunch of cocaine and is only about 90 minutes long. If that appeals, make like the bear and snort it up.

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