'Coffee and Kareem' (2020) Review: Weak Tea.
I’ll be honest, I never really gave too much attention to Netflix films. It’s an old fashioned notion, but I could never shake the perception that they were released on streaming services because they weren’t good enough to be released in cinemas. That’s a flawed mentality. Sure there are plenty of mediocre films on Netflix, but there are plenty much worse that make it to the big screen. Take last year’s ‘Stuber’ for example, a movie I wanted desperately to walk out of after the first 15 minutes.
I mention ‘Stuber’ because while watching ‘Coffee and Kareem’ I couldn’t help shake that Stuber feeling. It’s got much of that movie’s DNA, an unlikely pair that gets swept up in a high paced action adventure and shoots off bullets and raunchy jokes a mile a minute. When the credits rolled to reveal ‘Stuber’ director Michael Dowse as the director of ‘Coffee and Kareem’, everything came together. Except where ‘Stuber’ fails, ‘Coffee and Kareem’ succeeds.
Played by Ed Helms detective Coffee is perhaps the most pathetic cop ever to be seen in a movie. He’s the definition of a buffoon, but he managed to get the interest of Taraji P. Henson’s Vanessa, a fact that doesn’t sit very well with Kareem, Vanessa’s son, played by Terrence Little Gardenhigh. Kareem is just a kid so naturally, he expresses his volatile emotions by acting out. He curses, he’s loud, and he tries to hire a notorious gangster to kill or paralyze Coffee as soon as possible.
As dark as that sounds, the movie finds a way to make it zip by before it sets in. It’s quickly paced so you never have to wait too long for the next joke. That works in the movie’s favour since most of the humour falls flat. Most of the jokes in the beginning are designed to get you to know the characters of Coffee and Kareem so that when the film pairs them off, you get what they’re about.
While they aren’t the funniest scenes, I appreciated that the movie did the legwork early on. It makes later scenes like Coffee teaching Kareem about how to talk to girls in the middle of a strip club work tremendously. The movie is an hour and a half and it’s a fun ride for that time, but it also manages to slow down when it needs to without grinding the film to a halt.
Coffee and Kareem aren’t the only two players here. Henson and Gilpin are huge standouts for the film. They’re scene thievery is much appreciated. It’s a shame their roles don’t allow for more screen time. If Dowse is looking for another buddy movie pairing, these two are where it’s at.
Throughout ‘Coffee and Kareem’ I was mostly entertained. The brand of humour relies on shock value, but every now and then it will hit you with something clever that comes along like a slice of pizza in the middle of a low carb diet. The good thing is the moments are spread out pretty evenly, and the characters grow on you by the time the credits roll.
Rating: Catch It On Cable.