It's been a few months since I had the displeasure of sitting through a Netflix comedy this uncomfortable, but the time is now upon us to sit through yet another miserable experience, and this one goes by the name of Coffee & Kareem. From a capable director and an albeit talented cast, this film has the makings of a well crafted affair, yet this comedy falls entirely flat on all accounts.
From the director of 2019's Stuber and the 2011 comedy Goon, comes Coffee & Kareem, a misguided attempt at a polar opposites attract movie, similar in tone to the premise of Stuber. The big difference between Coffee & Kareem and Stuber is how well the leads work; here they lack any remote chemistry to keep the film moving ahead. The film lends itself to being a low budget, made for tv movie with some cursing and nudity spread throughout to differentiate it slightly. Coffee & Kareem lacks any flare, and it's an incredibly dull film partially due to the script, but also the style in which director Michael Dowse captured the film. It's a shame how disappointing this film is after seeing the amount of fun Dowse can bring to the screen through his actors when he really tries and has decent material to work with.
The plot follows Coffee (Ed Helms), a negligent cop that just wants to be friendly with his girlfriend’s son Kareem. Only things quickly go array when Kareem gets himself and Coffee mixed up with the wrong drug crowd. The two must survive not only the drug lords, but themselves and a dark secret hidden right before their very noses. The twists and turns presented here are par for the course, resembling (SPOILER) the exact same twist from the director’s previous effort Stuber. The story was the definition of basic, going from one predictable set piece to another until the concluding Die Hard moment. Something most people may not realize is that Coffee & Kareem have a set of four posters to advertise the film: one normal Netflix style poster and then three parody posters that show the exact films they are so blatantly mimicking throughout the film. The posters are just as lazily crafted as the screenplay itself, and the jokes lifted from each police officer centric film. No, Coffee & Kareem, you are not the next Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop, or 48 Hours.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Terrence Little Gardenhigh is newer to the acting game than a mass majority of his castmates, so there’s not a ton of reference to go off of whether or not this young actor is worthy of his screen time or not. As Kareem, it’s up for debate, as his chemistry on screen with everyone doesn’t correspond well. This is especially true for Ed Helms, who works rightfully with the role at first, but once the duo start to enjoy one another’s company the chemistry remains absent. Ed Helms shares a greater chunk of his screen time with Terrence Little Gardenhigh, and unfortunately (as already mentioned) their screen chemistry is non-existent. The drug lords that come to kill Coffee and Kareem are actually all rather good in their respective roles; their banter is one of the few elements of the feature that got a chuckle out of me. I won’t be diving deep into my opinions of Taraji P. Hensen and Betty Gilpin’s characters, as I’d rather leave them alone, but just know that Gilpin has recently done a much, much better job in The Hunt and Hensen has crashed relatively low since her time on Hidden Figures - ultimately neither of them being in Coffee & Kareem is a reason to suffer through this 88 minute film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
When you have The Raid: Redemption & The Raid 2 on your resume, you’d think that as a composer you’d have action pretty much down, considering those are two of the greatest action films ever made. You go higher on the list of projects and you’ve got The Greatest Showman; this man composed The Greatest Showman, a film that’s arguable in terms of quality throughout but brilliant in its musical compositions. Joseph Trapanese made those three near perfect compositions and then turned around to make this slothful piece of work - it’s not that it’s the worst score I’ve heard recently, because it’s not… but the fact remains that this composer failed to come close to his previous efforts.
This movie is painful to watch, as it looks like it was filmed on such a minimalistic budget that they damaged the lens at some point in time and just didn’t have finances to fix it. The choices in every shot are questionable at best, with the camera oftentimes being positioned in the worst possible place. Coffee & Kareem has absolutely nothing desirable rearing its head from the visuals, and it feels as though the production team went in for an easy paycheck and didn’t bother to see if maybe something should have been added to make the film a little more distinguishable and less of a blatant copy of many others.
"Tell Your Mom We Went To Chuck E. Cheese..."
Beyond Stuber, I didn’t exactly have any reason to be enthused about watching Coffee & Kareem, and after finishing the buddy comedy starring Ed Helms and Terrence Little Gardenhigh, I wish that my time spent here had been used elsewhere. This 88 minute film feels like eternity as I was constantly checking the runtime to see just how much longer was left before a real cop classic: Beverly Hills Cop, Die Hard, or 48 Hrs could wash the disgraceful taste of Coffee & Kareem out of my mouth.