Have you ever watched the movie Citizen Kane, after being bugged and nagged by every film buff west of New York to watch “the best movie ever”, and as you’re sitting alone in your tiny apartment with nothing but a half-eaten cup of instant ramen, you wondered, “Huh. What was Rosebud, anyway?”
Citizen Kane is a movie loved and revered for its contributions to film history, its innovative lighting and cinematography, and is marked down in the history books as having one of the most climatic endings ever seen in film. You, dear reader, have at the very least heard the name of this “cinematic masterpiece”, and if you dared to sit through the toils of 1940s style acting in order to get to that finale, I ask — do you know what Rosebud represents, what symbols and themes the director wanted you to take away from his magnum opus?
Well me neither. I was too busy watching a better movie called Cocaine Bear.
Like most college students, I was once trapped at a tragically boring house party with a series of people who I did not know, and who I would not even attempt to talk to over the course of the next four hours. In the corner, next to the snack table and four long abandoned cans of Coke, I was stuck next to a very common species known as the cinematographic masculum, also understood as a guy in a really small beanie who wouldn’t stop talking about Fight Club and the director’s cut of Blade Runner.
The entire time he was talking, my mind raced with thoughts of a movie that would put 2001: A Space Odyssey to shame, that would make Martin Scorcsese weep tears at its cinematic achievements, a movie that would sweep the Oscars — Cocaine Bear.
Cocaine Bear is sick — imagine a movie about a drug smuggler named Andrew C. Thorton II, who parachutes out of a plane, dies, and then drops half of his cocaine supply in a forest, right in a place where a gigantic black bear eats an entire package. You don’t even need to imagine it, it’s so kickass that it fills your mind with pure ecstasy. Upon ingesting the cocaine, this bear goes on a violent, grizzly (pun intended) murder spree — from cops to criminals to tourists, and there is no one on Earth who can stop this drugged-up bear. It was even based on a true story, which is so dope.
Even better — this movie tells the story of a feminist icon. She’s murdered ten people up to this point, from paramedics to park rangers — and one might think of that as a bit of a red flag, but towards the end of the movie, it’s revealed that this bear is a mother of two cubs — and of course, we all love and support a single mother. When one of the main characters, Syd Dentwood, attempts to retrieve the last brick of cocaine, the bear disembowels him because that is her cocaine and she worked hard for it, dammit. What’s not to love about a story of a mother willing to do anything for her children and some cocaine?
You might have a question floating around in your mind. “Okay, Cocaine Bear might be rad as hell, but is it a good movie?” And the answer to that question is a resounding yes. This movie has all of the hallmarks of a cinematic masterpiece — it has middling CGI, a completely forgettable soundtrack outside of a single Pusha T remix, and cinematography so absolutely bog standard it makes you cry tears of joy. The color palette is flat and unremarkable, echoing that of a Mucinex commercial or a soap opera, and all of the acting can be described with just a single phrase — “I mean, it was fine, I guess.” Everything about this movie screams Kantian pleasure, revels in Dionysian splendor and whimsy, it is camp at its most camp-esque — one might even say this movie beats out Citizen Kane in terms of cinematic relevancy.
In comparison to Cocaine Bear, which is the Best Picture nominee for 2023 (don’t look that up), Citizen Kane is an absolute snoozefest. Citizen Kane is the movie I mentioned earlier (don’t worry if you don’t remember, no one would expect you to remember Citizen Kane) and is seen as one of the greatest films of all time, if not the greatest film ever made. It’s about some newspaper publisher named Charles “Who Cares” Kane, he’s holding some snowglobe that he probably got from a cheap gift shop, whispers the word “Rosebud” and then dies. Honk shoo, boring. Some guy named Jerry Seinfeld — probably? I don’t remember because the movie is boring — who is tasked with finding out the meaning of the word “Rosebud” because everyone is so invested in the life of the very special boy named Mr. Kane, blah blah blah. At least when Syd Dentwood is trying to find the cocaine, it’s like, interesting.
(Spoiler Alert, it’s like, a sled? But then the sled burns in a furnace so like, cool ending Orson.)
Now I’m sure the “cinephiles” reading this article are demanding my head, because how dare I speak so ill of one of the greatest movies of all time — and make no mistake, I am perfectly aware of this film’s cinematic achievements. The cinematography is fantastic and incredibly revolutionary, the story is multilayered and full of rich, complex themes that are still the subject of discussion today, and the soundtrack rings in your ears long after the movie ends.
However, and this is my main, well-researched, peer-reviewed, and totally fully thought out thesis so pay close attention — it is so boring, oh my god it’s so boring. Movies should be cool. Like Cocaine Bear.
Throughout my life as a person who enjoys movies — a phrase I am using because I am a normal person who does not use words like “cinephile” — I’ve encountered every genre of film bro imaginable. These kinds of guys always want to talk your ear off about Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan’s audio mixing and how Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece because they want to score smart points at house parties — yes, I’m talking to you, Derrick — but did Tarantino ever make a movie about a bear doing cocaine and killing people? Nope. Honestly, I think all Tarantino movies would be made better with an inebriated bear, but he didn’t do that, so minus five hundred cool points for Tarantino. And you too, Derrick.
Truly, I do not think it is possible to overstate the case for Cocaine Bear becoming a classic film, akin in status to Vertigo, Casablanca, or the third Spy Kids movie. If you were to ask the first ten people at that same house party if they had watched the movie Citizen Kane, I’m willing to bet at least 90% of them will say “no, I haven’t gotten around to it”, which is polite speak for “I’m never going to watch that, it looks super old and boring.” Cocaine Bear though? Who in their right mind would ignore the chance to see a giant feminist black bear do an entire package of cocaine?
Cocaine Bear is a cinematic masterpiece, one that will leave its mark on history for decades, nay centuries. For my final statement, I point to Twitter user @itspushpush, truly an enlightened sage amongst us rubes, who spoke the wise words, “The price of cocaine in LA went up and I just know it’s got something to do with that fuckin bear”.