Tuesday Review – Coffee & Kareem (2020)

films, reviews


I’m not one to agree with film snobs like Steven Spielberg but there is part of me that wishes Netflix would stop making films. It’s not about watching films at home or on your phone. It’s about quality. To be fair, it’s not just a Netflix thing but they tend to have a pretty dire output. Especially when it comes to comedies. Whoever is in charge of greenlighting films needs to really take a step back for a minute. Yes, they’ve had a few epic hits in recent years but that shouldn’t erase all of the rest of it. I can’t name one of their comedies that has been worth a watch. So, I wasn’t holding out much hope even if it did star Taraji P. Henson. After all, Proud Mary taught us that she’s doesn’t necessarily make good choices all the time. It’s not just that the film is a Netflix original. The fact that it doesn’t even make it past the 90-minute mark is a clear sign of bad things. How many films go under an hour and a half these days? Only the ones that didn’t have enough jokes to fill a few more minutes. But with cinemas closed and films being postponed, I’m going to run out of recent films to review. I’m just going to have to bite the bullet.

Coffee & Kareem really does have delusions of grandeur. It sets itself up to be some kind of 80s buddy cop film with its use of font, freeze frame, and a scene set in a strip joint. Yet, anyone hoping for a fun throwback should turn back now. This is nothing like the films that everyone loved back in the day. It’s cringy and sad. At least it’s over quickly and you’ll definitely forget everything that happened as soon as Netflix starts playing the trailer for whatever it’s recommending next. It’s a film that lacks jokes, lacks chemistry, and lacks any kind of point. I hated it. Really hated it.

The film sees police officer James Coffee coming to blows with the teenage son of his girlfriend. Kareem is so upset about his mother dating a white cop that he tries to arrange for a local gangster to sort him out. Things take a difficult turn when the pair witness the murder of a corrupt police officer. They find themselves being chased by thugs and trying to uncover the other cops working with the bad guys. All while trying to find a way to work together. The wimpy and clumsy cop and the loudmouth rapper teenager. Doesn’t it just scream comedy to you?

Really though, there is never any time to develop any aspect of the story. We don’t really get to see any development in either character unless the plot needs it. The narrative doesn’t have the time to amp up the drama or the tension. Coffee manages to track down the bad buy really quicky and the final showdown happens without any build-up. It’s like nobody was even trying with this film. Okay, so that was obvious from the unoriginal premise but it would have been nice if they included a joke every now and then.

What really makes this film unbearable though is the confusing tone. It plays out like a kids movie and there are plenty of moments where things are clearly underplayed for a younger audience. But then there is the prevalence of adult humour that doesn’t fit. It never really fits together and it’s really not clear who this film is being made for. It doesn’t really have anything decent to offer anyone. It’s clearly trying to follow in the footsteps of well-known films but this never reaches the heady heights it was aiming for. This isn’t just a bad buddy cop film. It’s an insult to its audience and to everyone who put time into making it.

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