The 2.24.23 release of Cocaine Bear (Universal), a heartless, cruel-minded thriller if there ever was one (or so it would seem), is fast approaching.

Posted on 8.1.22: In November 1985, a dead black bear was discovered in Chattahoochee National Forest. Nearby was a torn-open duffel bag that had apparently contained 75 pounds of Bolivian marching powder, and which had apparently fallen out of a smuggler’s plane. (Flown by Tom Cruise’s Barry Seal?) The clueless bear had eaten a good portion of the coke and overdosed.

The guy who found the bear’s ruined body didn’t alert authorities (one guess why) and it wasn’t until 12.20.85 when authorities discovered the carcass. A medical examiner at the Georgia State Crime Lab said that that the bear’s stomach was “literally packed to the brim with cocaine.”

Elizabeth Banks has directed a “character-driven thriller” about the poor bear’s misfortune as well as, one presumes, certain humans who quickly developed an interest in the free cocaine. It’s called Cocaine Bear (Universal, 2.24.23). The film costars Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the late Ray Liotta.

The title alone suggests that Banks and her producers see the story as an opportunity for bear thrills, or at least partly that.

The body of this poor, poisoned animal eventually found its way to a taxidermist, and is now on display inside the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall (720 Bryan Ave., Lexington, Kentucky). There’s a sign around the bear’s neck that refers to him as “Pablo Escobear.”

In short Kentucky bumblefucks regard the idea of a furry beast dying of a cocaine overdose as a hoot.

HE to Banks and Universal marketing: HE believes that the death of an innocent animal who died of cocaine ingestion is not in itself an opportunity to do “funny” or “thrilling”. It sounds to me like a metaphorical tale about our casual greed and cruelty and indifference to the natural order of things — about the fact that forest animals have a certain nobility while we have none.

If Robert Bresson was still around and Universal had hired him instead of Banks, the film would be called Au hasard, Cocaine Bear — the sad story of a saintly bear who died because he was unlucky enough to cross paths with a duffel bag full of blow.

What kind of evil mind would listen to this story and go, “Whoa, great idea for a fun, goofy movie…a bear with a cocaine problem! Whoo-hoo!”