'Cocaine Bear' Pushes the Limits of Its R-Rating With Over-the-Top Gore

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Feb. 24 2023, Published 10:43 a.m. ET

'Cocaine Bear'
Source: Universal Pictures

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Cocaine Bear.

At long last, cinema is back in the form of a killer coked-up bear cleverly dubbed Cocaine Bear.

The highly anticipated black comedy film is loosely inspired by the true story of an American black bear that ingested a duffel bag full of cocaine in 1985. But, unlike its film counterpart, the real "Cocaine Bear" did not go on a murderous rampage.

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The flick takes plenty of creative liberties, and if we think about the premise of Cocaine Bear, it's pretty impossible not to give it an R-rating. The plot differs from the real-life events, instead following an "oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists, and teens" who assemble in a Georgia forest where a bear has ingested a massive amount of cocaine and gone on a killing spree.

Although the official synopsis screams violence, let's take the time to find out exactly why Cocaine Bear is rated R.

cocaine bear getting showered in cocaine
Source: Universal Pictures

"It's Cocaine Christmas!"

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Why is 'Cocaine Bear' rated R?

With a title like Cocaine Bear, there's bound to be plenty of graphic moments in the film, and trust us — there are a lot. Per the MPA, the black comedy-thriller is rated R for "bloody violence and gore, drug content, and language throughout."

For starters, let's discuss the profane language — the severity level is sky-high, with 78 uses of the F-word and 33 uses of s--t in the movie, among other cuss words. As for the drug content, it's pretty straightforward since the entire film is about a black bear unintentionally ingesting cocaine and going on a murderous rampage.

There are minor spoilers below, so tread lightly!

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cocaine bear follows someone up a tree
Source: Universal Pictures

Speaking of the bear's murderous rampage, let's dive into the "bloody violence and gore" section. As one could expect, it's a total bloodbath, but it's often surprising how intense the violence is due to the film's light and comedic tone.

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For instance, the titular character follows a man up a tree and graphically tears his leg off — the action happens offscreen, but we see blood spraying everywhere. The scene ends with the eviscerated body falling headfirst on the ground and the bear licking the severed leg. That might sound off-putting, but it plays for laughs and succeeds.

Another scene sees the local forest ranger accidentally shooting a teenager in the head — it's extremely gory. Just a few seconds later, we see another teenager's body torn to pieces by the bear and his head comically falls into a bucket.

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cocaine bear chases down an ambulance
Source: Universal Pictures

The most violent sequence sees the bear chasing down an ambulance.

Once the coke-fueled animal climbs into the vehicle, one of the characters, who's on a stretcher, is pushed out the back door and lands face down on the pavement, which proceeds to grind the person's face off as it skids. Another character has their wrist fully severed. The scene ends when the ambulance crashes into a tree, launching the driver through the windshield.

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Elizabeth Banks revealed she cut one 'Cocaine Bear' death scene due to gore.

While speaking with Insider, director and co-producer Elizabeth Banks explained an over-the-top gory scene she ultimately took out of the movie so audiences wouldn't "throw up" in the theater — minor spoiler ahead!

"Everything that I wanted in is in the movie, but I did pull out some gore toward the end. Kristofer Hivju, who plays the hiker, we show an amazing prosthetic of his ripped-off face that's the aftermath of an attack with the bear. We also filmed his death, but I took it out," Elizabeth said told the outlet.

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Elizabeth Banks directs 'Cocaine Bear'
Source: Getty Images

Elizabeth continued, "I felt by then the point had been made of what's happening. I wanted the audience to be a little more on the emotional ride of the third act. It's coming to a close, and I wanted people to leave happy and not be freaking out and wanting to throw up." Luckily, she succeeded because we left the theater with sore cheeks from laughing so much!

Cocaine Bear is now in theaters.

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