COFFEE & KAREEM – Film Review

While police officer James Coffee (Ed Helms) enjoys his new relationship with Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson), her beloved 12-year-old son Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) plots their break-up. Attempting to scare away his mom’s boyfriend for good, Kareem tries to hire criminal fugitives to take him out but accidentally exposes a secret network of criminal activity, making his family its latest target. To protect Vanessa, Kareem teams up with Coffee – the partner he never wanted – for a dangerous chase across Detroit.

The world right now is a scary place. With the coronavirus still ongoing and with everybody still quarantined within their households, many of us are trying to find great movies to watch to pass the time, since nearly all movie theatres are temporarily closed right now due to public health and safety concerns.

There really isn’t any major movie releases coming until June at the very least, and so, with us all stuck at home, what can we watch? Well, director Michael Dowse has just released his latest comedy action feature Coffee & Kareem on Netflix, and unfortunately, the movie is just as dumb as the title.

Easily the biggest issue with this film is the screenplay by Shane Mack. Admittedly, the premise is quite interesting and had the potential to be a modern-day love letter to classic action comedies of decades past such as Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop. But in its efforts to pay homage to those classics, it instead rips them off in blatantly obvious ways. There truthfully is next to no originality in this screenplay, and it is baffling as to how all of these big-name actors agreed to star in this.

Ed Helms as Officer James Coffee in Coffee & Kareem (2020).

Aside from the familiar script, it’s also just painfully unfunny. Gratefully, the film has a running time of a mere eighty-eight minutes, so you don’t have to suffer through it for too long, although it definitely feels longer than it is. Sure, there are a couple of moments where you may chuckle, but that’s about it. There’s not a single scene that has excellent comedy in it and instead comes across as cringy for the most part.

Plus, all of the characters that we follow throughout the story are incredibly bland and, sadly, unlikable. The most annoying and hard to watch character here is Kareem himself, and it is not young Gardenhigh’s fault. It’s the screenplay. They don’t give us any reason to root for him or Coffee. Their characters are essentially just restricted to small quirks and the development here was unexistent.

When it comes to the action sequences, they are decent for the most part. There’s nothing extremely exciting unfolding on screen, but there is also nothing incompetently filmed and headache-inducing either. These scenes are entertaining while you watch them, but as soon as the film ends, you’ll forget about them. As a matter of fact, you’ll forget about the whole movie a few days after you watch it.

Coffee & Kareem is a failed attempt at paying homage to action comedies of the past with a familiar and drastically unfunny screenplay.

Overall Grade: D

MPAA Rating: TV-MA

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

Directed by: Michael Dowse

Distributed by: Netflix

Release Date: April 3, 2020

Running Time: 88 minutes

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