After failing to bring in a prisoner to justice, officer Coffee (Ed Helms) isn’t having much luck. His fellow police officers pick on him daily which he’s getting sick of but thankfully the one thing that is going well in Coffee’s life is his relationship with a woman named Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson). As Coffee and Vanessa are head over heels in love, Vanessa suggests now is the time for Coffee to get to know her son, Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh). Coffee is personally frightened of being a stepfather for personal reasons. Kareem on the other hand is a 12-year kid who hates the idea of having Coffee as a stepdad and wants nothing to do with him. When Coffee picks up Kareem from school, Kareem enacts plans to punish Coffee. But Kareem’s plans don’t go the way he was expecting and he ends up witnessing an awful crime instead. Now Coffee and Kareem are on the run from drug deals in Detroit, trying to survive and protect evidence that can prove their innocence.
For those who are not aware, this film is in fact a comedy flick. While young ‘buddy’ style cop films have been done before (films such as“Cop and a Half” or “My Spy” come to mind) thankfully this film tries to be different from these, particularly with its characters. Coffee as a leading man is generally accident-prone and Kareem is the exact opposite, being overconfident with an extreme potty mouth. While these type of characters along with the film’s concept are welcoming, as a comedy there are many missed opportunities here.
There are also elements about the characters I found hard to accept. Some of these include Coffee handing a Kareem a handgun while entering a warehouse or when the two enter a strip club… a kid in a strip club- yeah right. I also struggled with Kareem as a character. This isn’t about the young actor’s performance by any means. But Kareem swears so much that the foul language overstays its welcome and feels forced, making the character somewhat unlikeable.
My biggest issue with the film is the fact that jokes are generally repetitive. Jokes including sexual references or about racism are consistently used. Instead of coming up with new jokes, the same jokes- just like the foul language- overstay their welcome. The film’s twist is also easily picked at the start of the film- again a missed opportunity.
Overall, Coffee & Kareem as a comedy is a disappointing one. With such a fun plot and concept, it’s a shame to see so many missed opportunities throughout the film. Sure, there are some giggles to be had but most jokes are simply repetitive rather than creative. Performances are positive but some of the key characters are too overconfident making them unlikeable or too forced for an audience to ever actually enjoy and support.
Coffee & Kareem (2020) is Now Available on Netflix Australia!