Friday, April 3, 2020

Review: Coffee & Kareem

Release date: April  3, 2020
Running time: 88 minutes
Starring: Betty Gilpin, Taraji P. Henson, Ed Helms 

Netflix's new original comedy Coffee & Kareem is the story of Detroit Metro Officer James Coffee (Helms) who is in the midst of a growing relationship with Vanessa Manning (Henson). And while things are becoming more serious for the two, Vanessa makes it clear that she and her 12 year old son Kareem are a package deal. And although the two want to make an effort for Coffee to have a relationship with Kareem, Kareem has other plans. In an elaborate scheme to break the two up and scare Coffee away forever, Kareem decides to hire an ex convict to scare his mom's boyfriend away.  However, this scheme backfires and puts Kareem, Coffee, and his mother at risk.  Now, Kareem and Coffee must begrudgingly work together to stay safe.  

Brought to you by director Michael Dowse, who brought us movies like Stuber and Goon, and actor Ed Helms, of The Office and The Hangover fame, you have a feeling that this movie will be funny.  In fact, this movie was nuts, with one crazy scenario after the other.  Terrence Little Gardenhigh, who plays 12 year old Kareem, is 12 going on 21 in this film.  He has plenty of vulgar dialogue and raunchy jokes that belie his age.  This young star hangs with the adults on all levels, although I didn't love his delivery at times.  It got better as the movie progressed but it felt very unnatural at the start.  However, Taraji P. Henson was the perfect compliment for the two leads.  With everyone else being completely off the rails her character finds her own style of humor that is more subtle and comes about through her own muted dialogue and actions.  And she is far and away the best actor in this film.  Unfortunately, her role is limited and you don't get to see her as much as Helm and Gardenhigh. 

However, the story of this film is just ridiculous.  That is good and bad in this case.  It goes from one crazy scenario to the next, with the pair getting into more and more trouble as the story progresses.  But although the film tries to one up itself over and over, and ends with a climactic, hectic ending, the story is kind of all over the map.  And for a movie that is a comedy, there were definitely some funny jokes, but a lot of humor that fell flat.  Especially at the start of the movie, the jokes were very hit or miss.  Luckily, the film does warm up after this rough start, and towards the end has some genuinely funny scenes.  But for a film that is only an hour and a half with some very funny people, it shouldn't need this warm up time to really hit its stride.  However, unlike regular coffee, the longer you sit with it the hotter and more intense it gets.  

This unconventional buddy cop film leans on its ridiculous moments, adult dialogue, insult after insult, to serve and protect your funny bone.  

Watch it

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