Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Coffee & Kareem

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Copyright: Netflix

Every time Ed Helms creeps his way onto my screen, I genuinely feel a little bit of me die on the inside. He makes me want to tear my eyes from my sockets and smash them into a pulp. Helms is the sort of leading man Hollywood presumably grows in test tubes, in case one of them gets ill or tries to escape their holding pen. His latest starring role comes in the form of a Netflix original, Coffee & Kareem. The immovable object of Helms’ stagnant career takes on the unstoppable force of degradingly poor Netflix originals in a match up that I never wanted to see.  

Within one minute of the film happening, Helms’ antics are grossly ineffective. The absolute dregs of the comedy genre can be found in his films far more frequently than you would hope. Low tier comedy litters a script devoid of any humour in the slightest. American comedy has never really been my cup of tea, but this one is like a highlight reel of perfunctory moments. The weakest of their setlist of jokes, dragging the drug and sex jokes of your lowest denomination of Seth Rogen comedy into a film starring a man whose career should never have exceeded car insurance television adverts. 

Coffee & Kareem is truly, truly awful. We follow copper Coffee (Helms) as he struggles to connect with Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh), the son of his girlfriend Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson). A trilogy of individuals that I assume don’t know all that much about comedy, if we judge them on their past filmography that is. Henson rebooted the Mel Gibson classic What Women Want with the aptly titled What Men Want and Helms’ funniest work to date is Monsters vs. Aliens, solely on the grounds that you don’t have to see his putrid smile in that animated flick.  

The supporting performances don’t help either, with our titular Kareem holding all the acting abilities of, say, a goose, or a lamp. I can’t be too harsh on him, especially since this is Terrence Little Gardenhigh’s first feature film. His performance falls under the Good Boys tirade of last year, prying on the idea that children swearing is the height of humour. Perhaps I shouldn’t have expected much from director Michael Dowse, the craftsman of classics like Goon and Stuber. How the benchmark for quality wasn’t set higher for a man of such clear talent is beyond my comprehension. His direction throughout this is pedestrian at best, with no unique voice or talent aside from knowing which end of the camera should be pointing at the cast members.  

Jokes that feel like they’re hammering home the “we’re so woke” comedy archetype that just doesn’t feel at place in a film where Ed Helms gives us a loose, watered down version of Beverly Hills’ Cop where he teams up with a kid in the most ubiquitous narrative you could ever experience. Scenes that joke about every taboo subject under the sun but fumble the delivery so poorly that it feels like a harsh criticism rather than something with a punchline. The film equivalent of getting sand in your eyes or trampling on a pigeon. Either would be preferable to watching Coffee & Kareem again, a film so expressionless you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just a rehash of every other complacent genre trope. Miserable, you’d have more fun throwing rocks at a lifesize cut out of Ed Helms than watching him flounder his way through ninety minute hellscape.