Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Coffee & Kareem

Another low-rent, lowbrow comedy from director Michael Dowse (of last year’s dopey Stuber), this has a semi-prestigious comic cast lost in all the screaming, ceaseless jokes about race and giggly bad language.

The prolific Ed Helms (from those Hangover movies, that attempt at rebooting Vacation and much more) is police officer James Coffee, a haplessly goofy sort who’s enjoying a secret relationship with nurse Vanessa Manning (Taraji P Henson, rarely allowed to cut loose like this). When her 12 year old son Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) accidentally spies them in bed, he immediately hates Coffee and, after lots of pointless swearing, improbably decides to hire a criminal to scare the dude away.

Unfortunately Kareem winds up not only annoying fugitive Orlando Johnson (RonReaco Lee), who we previously saw attempting to escape the police while not wearing pants, but also turning all the bad cops in Detroit (actually Vancouver) against him. Coffee naturally tries to protect the kid and, in an especially poor-taste subplot, is not-exactly-hilariously mistaken for a pedophile, something that Kareem complicates further by at first pretending that he’s in real danger.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this frenzied activity Betty Gilpin (from TV’s GLOW and the controversial horror pic The Hunt) almost overacts as Detective Watts, and she’s pretty much the best thing here and far more fun than Helms (playing it straight-ish), Henson and young Gardenhigh, who’s, dare it be said, really irritating as Kareem. And just pretend you didn’t read that if need be.

And, come on, aren’t we a bit old for all these gags about colour and making such a big deal out of Coffee and Vanessa’s ‘interracial’ relationship? Sheesh, you’d think that race was still a key issue in modern America or something!

Reviewer Rating

Coffee & Kareem (MA) is now streaming on Netflix

DM Bradley

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