Netflix Top 10: I wanted to hate Coffee and Kareem, but it was so funny I ended up loving it

Coffee and Kareem on Netflix. Photo courtesy Justina Mintz/Netflix
Coffee and Kareem on Netflix. Photo courtesy Justina Mintz/Netflix /

Coffee and Kareem is the latest movie to hit Netflix and immediately surge into the top 10. If you are hesitant to give it a shot, we’re asking you to reconsider.

Coffee and Kareem was a hard movie to judge from the outside. On one hand, you had a strong cast at the top with Ed Helms (The Office), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), and Betty Gilpin (Glow). Even some of the actors in smaller roles were familiar faces like David Alan Grier (Jumanji) and Andrew Bachelor aka King Bach (Rim of the World). On the other hand, the trailer looked bad, the name was goofy at best, and it felt like something that was thrown together without much thought or care.

Giving Netflix the benefit of the doubt and assuming the actors attached wouldn’t have signed onto a movie that was as bad as the trailer made it seem, I hit play. Even as the movie started it wasn’t clear where we were going to land. The first 10 minutes were probably the weakest in the movie but it’s because you’re just getting to know the characters and being introduced to the world. However, once the action picks up the hilarity overshadows everything. The characters, the situations, and even the action was full of shocking and hilarious moments.

The story

Coffee and Kareem follows Officer Coffee (Helms) and Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) as they try to stay alive while running from a Detroit drug kingpin. Kareem had initially hired the kingpin to beat up Coffee for dating his mom (Henson) but when the kid witnesses something he shouldn’t have everything backfires.

Over the course of the movie, Coffee tries to win over Kareem while also trying to survive and take down the drug operation.

The characters

Coffee is the lone cop who is a soft, good guy and because of this, he is the laughing-stock of the department. His goofiness makes you wonder how he and Henson’s Vanessa met and started dating. We only see them together very briefly before things fall apart in the movie and that was a good thing because their romance was hard to accept, at least at the start of the film.

Kareem is a kid that is trying to grow up too fast. He has a dirty mouth, worse than the kids from Good Boys because he knows what he’s talking about more than they did. He loves his mom though and isn’t a fan of the guy she’s dating. That part is easy to understand. He’s an aspiring rapper and the drug kingpin he’s trying to get to beat up Coffee is a rapper too. It’s the perfect scenario to get rid of mom’s boyfriend and get close to his idol.

The kingpin, Orlando Johnson, is played by RonReaco Lee (First Wives Club) and his flunkies are played by King Bach and William “Big Sleeps” Stewart (50/50). The three spend most of the movie chasing the cop and the kid and their dynamic is a constant source for comedy in the movie. Betty Gilpin, coming off of a great performance in The Hunt, also has a fun role and gets to show off more of her action chops.

Henson’s Vanessa has her best moments down the latter stretch of the film and you start to accept the relationship a bit more by the end. She’s very defensive of her son, and she gives Coffee a hard time throughout.

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Coffee and Kareem on Netflix. Photo courtesy Justina Mintz/Netflix /

The humor

The funniest character in the movie is definitely Kareem. His mouth is out of control, especially when it comes to sexual references and this starts early in the movie. If you don’t like vulgar comedy this movie is definitely not for you. He has zero respect for Coffee and his mouth even gets loose around his mom later in the movie though he primarily toned it down around her.

Helms’ humor is more at his expense than anything. He’s out of his depths in almost every situation he’s in and puts his foot in his mouth several times throughout the movie. There are several police brutality and jokes about race. He definitely has some strong moments but he was more of a compliment to Kareem than anything.

The gangsters were the primary source of hilarity outside of Kareem. For example, there’s a scene where they break into a house and one of the goons walks out with a plate of food. The leader asks him why he would touch a plate when he said not to leave fingerprints. The goon responds that his girlfriend has him on a keto diet and he has to eat something. The other goon asks if that’s cornbread on his plate, and he responds that is and it’s still warm. The leader meanwhile is annoyed with the other two. There are a lot of moments like this between the three.

The humor makes the movie and the action is a strong second.

Coffee and Kareem
Coffee and Kareem on Netflix. Photo courtesy Justina Mintz/Netflix /

The action

Coffee and Kareem gets to the action very early before settling into some scenes to introduce all of our key players. Then it’s action the rest of the way. There are explosions, shootouts, car chases, hostage situations, French Canadian drug dealers, dirty cops, interrogations, and a trunk that sees a lot of use throughout the film.

There is a lot of violence as well, including one scene where a character is blown up by a grenade and they show the body explode with only the head being left behind. Many scenes with people being shot or beaten too. I point all of this out just in case gratuitous violence bothers you.


Coffee and Kareem is by no means perfect but if you like raunchy humor and over the top violence in your action comedies, then you will enjoy Coffee and Kareem. The pacing of the movie is great. The action is non-stop so the few bad moments don’t linger after the first 15 minutes. They’re followed soon after by something laugh out loud funny.

If you dismissed Coffee and Kareem from the outside I hope you’ll reconsider and give it a chance. There are definitely reasons not to like it, but they are more centered around the language and violence than anything else.

Coffee and Kareem is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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