And the Winner is…Cocaine Bear?

By Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

Walking on the wild side with Cocaine Bear. I just couldn’t resist!

I love small towns.  They are my jam.  There’s something quite peaceful to me about small towns.  The limited offerings, the familiarity of everyone and everything, the ease of it all.  So on a recent trip to one of my favorite small towns – Pagosa Springs, Colorado – when Mr. Kaminski and I discovered that the movie theatre had finally been renovated and reopened after a three year plus hiatus, I was thrilled.

Now the Liberty Theatre isn’t a movie theatre like you’re thinking.  Established in 1919, the historic cinema closed prior to COVID and underwent a massive renovation.  It shows one movie per week or so, at one time every day except Thursday.  It’s closed on Thursday.  And on Sunday, the movie shows at a different time than on the other days of the week.  The box office opens an hour before showtime to buy your ticket, and there’s only about 150 seats, so if it’s a blockbuster type film, you best get there early if you want to see the movie because there’s no show after the 7 pm show.  It’s a one and done for the day.

As Mr. Kaminski and I were strolling down Main Street on Saturday, I saw the poster for the Liberty’s latest feature.  There it was an angry black bear poised for attack promoting what I was certain was a cinematic must see.  “We have got to come see Cocaine Bear,” I proclaimed to Mr. Kaminski, who rolled his eyes at my enthusiasm over such silliness.  I had never heard of this Hollywood extravaganza and was certain it was one of those B list films that never really make it to theatres, yet here it was – the feature at the Liberty.

I quickly looked up the Cocaine Bear synopsis on the Liberty’s website and read the epic, spine tingling description to Mr. Kaminski:  “Inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine and the black bear that ate it, this wild thriller finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow… and blood.”

True story?  Blow AND blood?  I proclaimed it a must see, much to Mr. Kaminski’s chagrin.  “You made me go see that bloody bear movie with Leo in it remember?” I reminded Mr. Kaminski.  “This couldn’t be nearly as bad as that.”

With the Liberty being located in a small town and all, I subscribed to the theory that you get what you get, and this is what they could get.  I didn’t think it was much of a film, and the theatre basically subscribed to the same right there on their website where they disclaimed that they can request films they would like to show, but they don’t always get what they want.  That’s fair.  They further went on to explain that because they only have one screen sometimes that limits what they can show in conjunction with a first run film, and due to a limited number of theatres some movies can run in, well, the Liberty is sort of last on the list.  I get that.  At least they’re up front about it.

So, with all of that pretense, plus the dynamic description, I really wasn’t expecting too much out of Cocaine Bear.  But, of course, I wasn’t about to let that dissuade me from going.

Sunday afternoon rolled around, and we headed into town apparently along with much of the rest of the small town of Pagosa Springs, because the Liberty was packed.  It was a full house that afternoon to witness the mayhem and madness of a cocaine-fueled bear and its cubs – yes, even the cubs became coke heads – and it was beyond bad, even with Ray Liotta, which was apparently his last film.  I see why.

I just knew this was a little film that no one had ever heard of until lo and behold as Mr. Kaminski and I were watching the Oscars later that very same day, who steps on the stage with Elizabeth Banks to present the award for Best Visual Effects?  You guessed it.  Cocaine Bear.  Turns out our little Liberty Theatre did get a first run movie after all.  It was just a bad one.  Who knew?  See y’all next week – on the porch!


Patti Parish-Kaminski

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