In the picture

April 26, 2020

Netflix’s latest action comedy Coffee & Kareem is a distasteful mess

Coffee & Kareem★

Staring: Ed Helms, Terrence Little Gardenhigh, Betty Gilpin, RonReaco Lee, Andrew Bachelor, David Alan Grier, and Taraji P. Henson

Directed by: Michael Dowse

Netflix certainly deserves props for the variety they offer with their original content, but the quality of their feature length projects hasn’t been quite as consistent as their subscribers would have hoped.

On one hand, the streaming service has been releasing films that have become major award season contenders, but on the other, we are left with movies that seem more deserving of a Razzie than an Oscar.

Their latest action comedy, Coffee & Kareem, sadly falls at the latter end of the spectrum.

The film puts together worn out buddy comedy shenanigans with crude humour, degenerating into an unexciting, predictable and preposterous mess along the way.

The story centres on James Coffee (portrayed by Ed Helms), an inept but well-meaning police officer. He has started a relationship with Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson), a development that has greatly displeased her unruly, foul-mouthed preteen son, Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh). Kareem wants Coffee out of the picture, but his attempt to have the cop whacked instead lands the two into the crosshairs of a drug cartel that is being supported by dirty cops.

To find a way out of their predicament, the unlikely duo must – as you would expect – work together and defeat the baddies. It’s a tired old setup, delivered here sans the charm that is necessary to make buddy comedies work.

Coffee & Kareem had the chance to modernize its genre, use its plot to say something meaningful about the topics at its core, or even embed something smart beneath its crass exterior. Instead, the movie makes no effort to try anything even vaguely interesting.

There is considerable comedic talent in the cast, but a film that features the likes of Helms and Henson, as well as Betty Gilpin and David Alan Grier who also play cops, really should be funnier than Coffee & Kareem is. The performers have been given a woefully unfunny script to work with. Helms is still affable enough as the bumbling Coffee, but he is partnered with an unlikable young character who is more grating than amusing and thereby makes it hard for you to be invested in the fate of the protagonists. Your level of enjoyment at the interactions of this pairing will depend mostly on how worn out you think the concept is and how funny you find obnoxious, vulgar tweens.

Seeing the rate at which they are releasing films, Netflix clearly has a lot of resources at its disposal, and we have also seen, time and again, that the streamer has the ability to attract significant cinematic talent, both in front of and behind the camera.

Movies like Coffee & Kareem just leave you wishing that Netflix would choose to invest in more interesting and inventive projects instead of wasting its assets and its subscribers’ time on such dismal dullness.

Rating system: ★Not on your life   ★½ If you really must waste your time ★★ Hardly worth the bother ★★ ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
★★★ Good enough for a look see ★★★ ½ Recommended viewing ★★★★ Don’t miss it ★★★★ ½ Almost perfect ★★★★★ Perfection

Netflix’s latest action comedy Coffee & Kareem is a distasteful mess