It’s not every day that one hears about a bear snorting, or rather eating, cocaine, but that appears to be what Elizabeth Banks is counting on for her next project, The Cocaine Bear. Based on the true story of a drug-smuggling operation that went wrong, Banks is going to be putting her reputation up for people to see how well this movie comes out, but at the moment there are a lot of questions. If anyone is wondering, this is based on a true story and it details a drug smuggling operation by a former police officer that wasn’t quite skilled enough at what he was doing and dropped several duffel bags into the Chattahoochee National Forest with the plan being to parachute down and retrieve them. Unfortunately, the smuggler’s chute didn’t open and his body was found later. Eventually, all of the duffle bags were found, save for one, which was apparently taken off by a bear, who ended up dying of an overdose as the cocaine was mistaken for food. It’s hard to say which direction Banks will be headed in this movie, especially since if her past efforts are any indication, she doesn’t have a great track record as of yet. It’s fair to say that she’s not the type to give up and she’s definitely swinging for the fences in her own way, but as of yet, her ideas have yet to really take root in a way that makes it evident that she’s found the pulse of her audience. The last Charlie’s Angels movie, which Banks directed, wasn’t exactly a smash hit, which makes one think that Cocaine Bear might be something that will be taken in a direction that people are willing to follow out of curiosity first and genuine interest second.
To be certain, it feels as though this movie might need to be given a serious dose of comedy in order to really make it work, but with Banks at the helm, it’s hard to say if it will get that kind of treatment. There are probably plenty of people already willing to doubt what Banks can do with this story and that she even belongs in the director’s chair after her last outing, but in the spirit of being reasonable it’s easy to remember that some of the greatest directors haven’t been successful at all times, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to simply see what Banks can do in order to redeem her reputation as a director. Her time as an actor earned her a great deal of respect since over the years she’s been a great addition to many movies, but it’s true that as of yet she hasn’t shown that kind of skill with directing. It could be that it might take just one movie to change that, so it’s better to think that she’ll find a way to make The Cocaine Bear work than to think that because she’s had a couple of flops that she’s not bound to learn from any past mistakes. Admitting that she has made mistakes might be a bit of a stretch for her since she defended the Charlie’s Angels reboot so vehemently when it was deemed as less than worthwhile. It’s great to have the confidence that a director needs and to stand by their creation, but at the end of the day one has to realize that blaming other female-led movies for being ‘male-driven’ is a copout since like it or not, they made money, while her own efforts haven’t done quite that well.
The Cocaine Bear could be turned into a comedy quite easily if Banks was able to pull such an idea together and create something that might be amusing to watch and featured enough talent to pus the story in a manner that would be agreeable to all audiences. Focusing on male or female audiences separately is one of the biggest mistakes possible from a certain point of view since one runs the risk of alienating their desired audience if they gear a movie in one way without considering how it will be received. Besides that, something titled The Cocaine Bear should be glad to get an audience at all, since hubris in this case isn’t bound to help anyone, least of all the director. While Banks has been a worthwhile actor, her instincts as a director have thus far been somewhat unreliable, which means that she might need to do a little more research into how to approach a mixed audience in order to get the results she wants. There’s no doubt that she can do this, but the question is whether or not she will since she is the director, and her movie will likely go the way she wants it to go.