Let me make one thing clear, just because this film stars a 12-year-old teaming up with an incompetent cop, doesn’t make this a film for teens. It’s highly inappropriate, vulgar and violent AF. But guess what, ‘Coffee & Kareem’ is Netflix’s ‘Good Boys‘ – a film in which three teenagers find a bag of drugs and get in all kinds of trouble to make sure a duo of angry college girls don’t catch them. Predictable at times and doesn’t reinvent the buddycop-genre, (if that’s the category you want to file this under) but for sure succeeds in making you laugh – and cringe.
While police officer James Coffee (Ed Helms – The Hangover) enjoys his new relationship with Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson – Empire), her beloved son Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) plots their break-up. Attempting to scare away his mom’s boyfriend for good, Kareem tries to hire criminal fugitives to take him out but accidentally exposes a secret network of criminal activity, making his family its latest target. To protect Vanessa, Kareem teams up with Coffee – the partner he never wanted – for a dangerous chase across Detroit.
Michael Dowse, director of what was probably the worst film of 2019 – Stuber, has made a very similar movie with Coffee & Kareem, the only difference with the latter is that this one got a release on a huge streaming platform and is just so much funnier. Sure, it’s politically incorrect, racially charged and foulmouthed, but if you know these kind of films aren’t for you, then don’t tune in and avoid it at all costs. First time writer Shane Mack‘s screenplay takes us on the road with Coffee and Kareem and puts us in the middle of highly dangerous situations which not always end well.
Gardenhigh is a star in the making. Period. He’s confident, doesn’t hold back, has phenomenal screen presence and his chemistry with comedic talent Helms is off the charts. If you’d told me some of the banter between them was improvised I would’ve believed you. A scene in which both of them try to steal a car from a guy, is short but proves just how well the two work together and their comedic timing is on point. Helms, lately a bit hit and miss with some typical roles that fit his nerdy presence, brings a certain innocence and owns the physical comedy aspect of the film. He does a bang up job, and it’s nice to see him in a somewhat different spotlight, proving he’s still got some fuel left in him.
Henson, who plays Kareem’s on screen mother, gets top billing, but is barely in the film. It goes without saying this “cookie” can act, and that becomes clear in the two scenes she’s in, one in which Kareem ends up tasering his mother, and another at the very end, which was one of the more bad ass moments of the film. Another absolute standout is GLOW-star Betty Gilpin, who plays the seemingly perfect Detroit detective Watts who just loves to bully the clumsy detective Coffee. Surprisingly she gets more to do in the second half of the story and is just a joy to withhold, for all the wrong reasons, with some of the best one-liners, next to Kareem.
Coffee & Kareem isn’t for everyone, but if you love gory violence, non-stop action, a foulmouthed teenager who commands your attention with some of the raunchiest sexual commentary, and some serious ’80s throwback references to films such as ‘Beverly Hills Cop‘ and ‘Police Academy‘, then you should just give this a go. Netflix has proven to be the place-to-be for outrageous comedy and once again brings the goodies to those who need some distraction.
Netflix Review – ‘Coffee & Kareem’
Reviewed online, April 3, 2020. MPAA-rating: R. Running time: 88 min.
Production: A Netflix release and presentation of a Pacific Electric Picture Co. production, in association with Buy Here Pay Here Entertainment, LLC. Producers: Mike Falbi, Ed Helms. Executive producers: Linden Nelson, Don Foss, Daniel Clarke, Sanford Nelson, Jordon Foss.
Crew: Director: Michael Dowse. Screenplay: Shane Mack. Camera: Brian Burgoyne. Editor: Daniel Gabbe. Music: Joseph Trapanese.
With: Ed Helms, Terrence Little Gardenhigh, Betty Gilpin, RonReaco Lee, Andrew Bachelor, David Alan Grier, Taraji P. Henson.