Coffee and Kareem: Review

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Rating – ★½

If the title was anything to go by, you’d quickly realise that Michael Dowse and Ed Helms’ latest comedy is a mockery of itself. I was expecting nothing more than a bit of dumb fun from this Netflix original, but the former certainly shines through a lot more.

Helms stars as an incompetent Detroit cop. Heavily highlighting the word incompetent as it’s anyone’s guess as to how he got the job in the first place. He’s the laughing stock of the force, that is until he stumbles upon a huge discovery. Well, I say ‘he’ stumbles upon it, more the son of the women he’s dating, who he takes along on a joy ride as a way of connecting. Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) hires a deadbeat thug to scare off officer Coffee, which backfires when he is the witness of a murder of another Detroit officer. This forces the two to work together and form an unlikely partnership.

As is typical with this genre, you have to fundamentally root for its protagonists, but Coffee and Kareem make that incredibly difficult to do from the offset. Coffee lacks almost all desirable qualities not only as an officer of the law, but also as a father figure to Kareem. His awkward demeanour is charming for about five minutes, after which you realise that he’s not really someone you can get behind the whole movie.

Kareem is crude mannered, but very sharp. He knows what’s best for his mother, and Coffee isn’t it. The film’s at its best when it allows Terrance to take centre stage, but although his questionable behaviour is mostly humorous, it fails to understand where the line is. This may be treat for some of you, but others will see right through its attempt at dark humour as a distraction for its flimsy script and failed compelling narrative.

The story is as basic as it comes, and it doesn’t require a degree in filmmaking to figure out quickly that this is the same regurgitated formula, with the same lazy twists we’ve been fed for years, and even with a fairly short runtime, it still feels exhausting to sit through. Helms scrapes the bottom of the comedic barrel to salvage whatever joke he can, leaving Kareem and the even better Detective Watts (Betty Giplin) to shamelessly sink down with the ship that is this movie. 

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