Coffee & Kareem

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Coffee & Kareem Movie Poster Image
Over-the-top violence, language in moronic buddy comedy.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Badly matched "partners" bond during crises. Film delights in "comic" racism, homophobia, inappropriate behavior.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Inept nitwit rises to the occasion as he discovers his love for others. Even heroic characters have little to recommend: mistake-prone, mean-spirited, buffoonish. Stereotypical "dirty" cops are featured.


Almost nonstop, intense, and bloody carnage. Point-blank shootings and blood-soaked deaths. Brutal fights, torture, child in peril in many scenes. Car chases, crashes, explosions. People are held captive; bodies fall, narrow escapes, vicious threats and menace. Boy accuses parental figure of sexual abuse, including rape (meant to be ridiculously funny). A discussion about torture (cutting off ear versus tongue).


One interrupted sexual encounter: an adult couple, fully clothed, engages in exaggerated foreplay. Female backsides are shown from male viewpoint in several scenes. Males, including a 12-year-old, leer at scantily dressed women in a strip club. Graphic sexual references, innuendo, sexual put-downs. Boy accuses parental figure of sexual abuse. 


Continuous profanity, pointedly coming from the mouth of a 12-year-old boy, as well as from grown-ups. The film's ostensible "humor" is based on the boy's inappropriate behavior and raunchy language. "F--k," "s--t," "d--k," "p---y," "ass," "bitch," "penis," as well as racial and graphic homophobic jokes. The "N" word is heard in rap lyrics.


Starbucks, Netflix, and Amazon are referenced.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Large-scale illegal drug sales are at root of plot. Cocaine and unidentified pills are ingested. Drug busts go awry; cocaine explodes from bags, covering characters in the white powder. The adult hero gets high.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAdamLight September 26, 2020

A no-no for kids

While the movie's storyline is quite hilarious, the fact that they got a supposed to be 12 year old kid to say all that crude profanity is overbearing, lik... Continue reading
Adult Written byEben12 July 21, 2020

Didn't like it

The kid in the movie irritates the hell out of me. He a narcissistic punk. It hits a little to close to home because there where kids like that in my school. No... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLeonvol January 25, 2021


This movie is one of my favourite it is sooo funny teens need to see this movie
Teen, 13 years old Written byThebeast_05 April 12, 2020

Mature teens 13+

Its a good movie but, if you don't think you or your kid(s) aren't mature then this is not for you. There is violence, strong language, and cocaine, a... Continue reading

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? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

Themes & Topics

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