New on Netflix, Coffee and Kareem sees director Michael Dowse return to the buddy cop genre after his disappointing effort last year, Stuber. This time round his film sees Officer Coffee (Ed Helms) team up with Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh), the son of his new girlfriend, Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson). After witnessing a fatal crime, Coffee and Kareem find themselves mixed up in the drug underworld of Detroit and must fight to keep themselves and Vanessa safe from the criminals they’ve become mixed up with.
Helms is a great comedy actor, he’s proven this many times before so his casting here comes as no surprise. His role is far from original though, and the material he has to work with backs him into an incredibly unfunny corner. His partner in crime, youngster Gardenhigh gives a spirited performance but the script serves him a similar sentence to Helms. The pair have a one-note chemistry, consisting of Kareem firing abuse at Coffee, as a result of his disgust at him dating his mother. It’s a monotonous set up that creates a charisma vacuum for both actors as the script never really takes their characters past this apart from in the inevitable and cliched way you’d expect. Taraji P. Henson is sidelined for most of the film, which is a mistake. When she finally reappears the narrative at least recieves a much needed burst of energy, and it’s this more positive energy that the film could have done with throughout the runtime. Fresh from her role in Blumhouse’s The Hunt Betty Gilpin also stars, like the rest of the cast she’s better than the film but she at least tries to elevate it to something greater than it is.
Narratively, Coffee and Kareem, is as dull and as cliched as they come. Not only does it exhaust the stereotypes of the buddy cop comedy but also those of the new father figure set up that so many comedies have done before. The comedy present is criminally unfunny with almost the entire collection of gags falling flat. What’s maybe most worrying though is that the film cannot even sustain audience interest over the thankfully short runtime, not even reaching the ninety minute mark. It almost instantly throws away any intrigue it has going for it, bizarrely revealing a crucial plot point pivotal to the film’s central mystery in one of its first scenes. Although, Coffee and Kareem was never going to be a high stakes cop thriller, keeping some of its cards close to its chest could have at least kept things somewhat more interesting for viewers.
So other than the amusing titular pun, Coffee and Kareem, is as unmemorable as they come. Whilst the cast give it their all their collective performance is simply not enough to make this Netflix film worth streaming. Leaving a bad taste in viewers mouth, this buddy cop caper is the cinematic equivalent to a cheap and nasty instant coffee.
Written by Hamish Calvert
STAR RATING –★★
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