A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Coffee & Kareem aims for laughs at the inappropriateness of a 12-year-old's graphic profanity and obnoxious behavior, as well as at the stupidity and ineptitude of its adult players. Viewers will see top-to-bottom excessive violence: gunfights, deaths, point-blank shootings, car chases, abductions, savage beatings, narrow escapes. The boy is frequently in danger. Both men and women engage in the brutality. A boy accuses a parental figure of sexual abuse, including rape (meant to be ridiculously funny). There's continuous explicit language: countless uses of "f--k," "d--k," "p---y," "s--t," "penis," "bitch," along with multiple references to anal sex. In addition, there are gay jokes and racial jokes, and the "N" word is heard in the rap music score. Drug cartels, drug-dealing, and drug use are at the heart of the plot. Cocaine is ingested, as are unidentified pills. The adult hero gets high. This movie, with its "kid-friendly" premise -- a boy and man bond during a high-stakes adventure -- is definitely not for kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
James Coffee (Ed Helms), a bumbling police officer (in fact, the laughingstock of his precinct), is in love with Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson) in COFFEE & KAREEM. The only thing standing between them is Vanessa's son, Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh). At 12, Kareem is incorrigible. A menacing rap wannabe, the boy swears outrageously, talks a good game about gangs and violence, and hates even the idea of James Coffee. When Kareem visits a notorious criminal (RonReaco Lee), hoping to have him scare off his mother's suitor, the boy is an unexpected witness to a killing, a point-blank murder he films on his phone. Now the target of a brutal gang of drug dealers, corrupt cops, and vicious killers, Kareem's only hope is the man he wanted out of his life.
Is it any good?
Working with a worn-out premise, repellent characters, brutal violence, and continuous profanity, this movie is a prime example of farce, in this case, "low" comedy that hits rock bottom early on. Ed Helms, who is also credited as a producer, relishes his role as an incompetent bonehead, but it's a real contest between him and an obnoxious 12-year-old for both screen time and laughs that don't land. Everything and everybody is exaggerated: Victims are riddled with bullets, the savage fight scenes go on longer after the conquered would be pulp. And it's all meant to be funny.
On a positive note, at least a few of the action sequences in Coffee & Kareem are well shot. Other than that, there are a few funny moments, and Betty Gilpin's performance as a depraved police officer is so unhinged that it works.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the extreme profanity in Coffee & Kareem. The filmmakers attempt to get laughs from Kareem's language. Did you think the inappropriateness of his swearing is funny? How much is too much? When, if ever, did it get repetitive for you? How does your family deal with the kids' cursing? Adults'?
Think about the extreme violence in the film. Do you respond differently to comic violence than you do to serious, realistic violence? How does each type of violence make you feel? Why is it important to be aware of the impact of media violence on kids? Do you think the fact that the violence is comic makes a difference for kids?
Who were you rooting for in Coffee & Kareem? Were the characters likable in spite of being so outrageous? What positive character traits can you attribute to Kareem? To Coffee?
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