CHENNAI: Netflix appears desperate to build its library and with coronavirus-related lockdowns taking place across the world, the streaming giant is probably under the mistaken notion that anything will do. Its latest offering, “Coffee & Kareem,” directed by Michael Dowse, is not just inane, but rather silly too. It seems that Netflix believed that by putting together a young, outspoken black pre-teen — 12-year-old Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) — and a failed white cop — Coffee (Ed Helms, also a producer) — it could produce laughs based on a plethora of stereotypes and gags. Well, far from it.
The movie turns into 88 minutes of bizarre happenings – like the boy trying to bump off the policeman, while the two are being chased by drug-pedaling thugs. To top it all off, bullets fly in just every direction, hand-grenades blow up for comedic effect and car chases tail spin into the ridiculous.
The plot follows Kareem as he realizes his mother Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson) is dating Coffee and the boy hates the idea of this union. In his bid to scare Coffee off, he embroils the trio in a drug trade-off with a motley crew of characters and mishaps around every corner in a slapstick comedy that may suit some viewers’ tastes if they enjoy gags and raunchy jokes.
As the film progresses, it becomes clear that Kareem could teach Coffee a thing or two about confidence. “I’ve got 42% body fat. Know why I don’t get picked on?” asks the kid, before explaining his bizarre technique that involves shouting explicit threats as aggressively as possible. Shane Mack’s screenplay is not without laughs, but it lacks sense or sensibility.
Most of the conversations in the film are racially charged, with attempts to use the black-white relationship at the center of the film as fodder for banter and jokes to limited comedic effect, while it has to be said that while some may find the extreme sexual references amusing, it borders on disturbing when recited by a child actor.
Honestly, I wonder how Netflix could have invested in a work like this. In short, “Coffee & Kareem” leaves a bitter taste.