Netflix Review – Coffee & Kareem: Talent Can’t Overcome Script

Ed Helms stars in a film that just can’t seem to figure out who it’s for.


James Coffee (Ed Helms) is a Detroit police officer who is dating Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson), a single mom of one 12-year-old son, Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh). Coffee has recently been disgraced after allowing notorious criminal Orlando Johnson (RonReaco Lee) to escape, putting him at odds with lead Detective Watts (Betty Gilpin). After Kareem sees Coffee and his mother having sex, he decides to track down Orlando Johnson and hire him to kill Coffee. He ends up witnessing Johnson’s men murder a dirty cop and is rescued by Coffee. The two end up having to work together to keep Vanessa safe and stop Johnson.

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Remember 48 Hours? That was a funny buddy comedy. 


So, in 1993, there was a movie called Cop and a Half starring Burt Reynolds and Norman D. Golden II about a cop working with a small child who witnessed a murder. That movie was cute, kid-friendly, sometimes funny, and had Burt Reynolds’s charm to bolster it. This film decided to go in a different direction. 

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Admittedly, parts didn’t age well.

A big problem is that this movie never clearly figured out what they were going for and it meant that you could never figure out whether you were supposed to like the characters or not. Kareem, for example, is a foul-mouthed poser who wants to front as a gangster, but is actually from Greenwich Village. Despite that, he does ACTUALLY TRY TO HAVE A COP KILLED, for which everyone kind of takes as an innocent mistake. His mother later insists that he’s just insecure and fronting, something that Kareem never admits, but at no point do they explain how Kareem could think that hiring a hitman was ever a good idea. He’s not really charming, he’s only occasionally funny, and he constantly makes things worse without appearing to undergo any character growth. Coffee, too, just isn’t likable, being either too dumb to live or, when he actually stands up for himself, being beaten back into submission. At one point he yells at Kareem about his actions, but then is forced to apologize. Apologize… to the kid who tried to have him murdered. 

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He does almost get him killed a lot. But not in funny ways.

Another problem is that the movie just isn’t that funny. They try to cash in on doing a lot of “edgy” jokes about pedophilia or having Kareem spout a number of swears that stand at odds with his being 12 years old, but none of them are amusing enough to merit the relative disgust that you’ll feel from the subject matter. I’m not saying that you can’t make good jokes out of the material, in fact other movies have, but these just fall flat. 

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I admit that Ed Helms can look creepy with a mustache.

The funny thing is that you can tell that everyone is doing a solid job playing their parts. Ed Helms is really trying to sell the lines and sometimes he even succeeds, Gardenhigh gets the occasional laugh from a precision F-bomb, and RonReaco Lee has some fun moments. However, the only person who mostly nails it in the movie is Taraji P. Henson. Despite the fact that her character is basically just “stereotypical black mom in a movie after 2010,” she does usually sell the ridiculous crap coming out of her mouth. 

Overall, though, this movie was bad. Don’t waste your time.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 – Happy Doesn’t Mean Fulfilled, Fulfilled Means Happy (Spoiler-Free)

Wreck-It Ralph’s sequel decides to show us that sometimes one person’s happily-ever-after is another person’s doldrums.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s been six years since Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) took down King Candy (Alan “I love this man” Tudyk) and returned Vanellope to being the princess of the game Sugar Rush. The pair are now best friends, hanging out at Litwak’s Family Fun Center and Arcade together every night. Ralph is happy with his life, but Vanellope is getting bored of the limited tracks available in her racing game. Ralph attempts to make a new one, but ends up breaking the game. The pair head to the internet to try and find a new part before the game gets unplugged. Along the way, they run into a tough female racer named Shank (Gal Gadot) from the internet game Slaughter Race, the algorithm from a video streaming site named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), a search engine named KnowsMore (Alan “I really love this man” Tudyk), and every single Disney princess.

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Also they have Jason Mantzoukas and Baby Groot at one point and I love it.


Wreck-It Ralph had several themes, but the focus of Ralph’s and Vanellope’s arcs were on how they were being defined by others. Ralph was constantly looked down upon, because he IS the villain of his game, but he was still a nice guy who just wanted people to like him. Vanellope is looked down upon because she is regarded as a “glitch.” Neither of them had any choice in these traits, but they both are burdened with the consequences of them. Throughout the movie, Ralph manages to come to terms with his situation by realizing that it doesn’t matter if all of the other characters in his game think of him as a hero, because he’s a hero to Vanellope and knows he’s doing the right thing. Vanellope, similarly, refuses to be regarded just as a glitch and, in fact, manages to turn her glitching into a superpower. At the end of the film, both of them now have moved beyond caring what anyone else thinks and have defined themselves both on their own terms and also in the terms of their friendship: Ralph’s the Hero, Vanellope’s the Racer.

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Here’s a picture of a candy car rather than Jean-Paul Sartre.

Their major arcs in the first film arise from existential crises where they are both trying to avoid being forced to adopt the values that society has placed upon them, a concept that Sartre referred to as “Bad Faith.” Ralph ends up mostly avoiding acting in bad faith because at the end of the movie, he doesn’t need the medal that he was seeking the whole film, he just needs to act like the hero he knew he could be. He even says one of the ultimate existential lines “there is no one I’d rather be than me.” He is now living authentically, in existential terms, which leads him to a place where he feels truly happy with the role he now plays of his own volition.

Did the reading already for Firefly.

That’s where this movie picks up the ball and runs with it in a pretty solid way. Ralph is happy at this point. He’s never had friends or been a hero, so having Vanellope as a friend and being her hero has made him satisfied. However, Vanellope is a racer. She lives for the challenge and now she doesn’t have it anymore, because she’s just too much better than any of the other racers. The core conflict of the movie arises from the fact that she and Ralph care about each other, but she no longer is happy just spending time with him. She needs fulfillment. When her game is in danger of being unplugged, she still agrees with Ralph’s plans to try and save it, but she knows that deep down she really doesn’t want to return to it. The rest of her arc in the movie is trying to find fulfillment in her life. Ralph’s arc, in response, is to learn how to deal with her leaving. Having never had a friend before, he is afraid of being alone again. Rather than just authenticity, she’s seeking self-actualization and he’s seeking self-determination. It’s a great way to progress their story after the end of the last film.

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The evolution of this medal alone is great.

But, boring thematic stuff aside, this movie does for the internet what Inside Out did for the human brain: Comes up with a clever way to represent the structure of it that’s intuitive and not particularly inaccurate. It has an insane number of references and sight gags, particularly if you were on the internet in the early days of AOL through now. The movie addresses social media, e-commerce, viral marketing, and even internet comment threads (though the lack of racial slurs makes it unrealistic).

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The Dark Web contains less sex trafficking and arms sales than in real life.

However, Disney really saved up the big shot for when it’s representing OhMyDisney where they manage to cram in more references, callbacks, in-jokes, and just flat-out nostalgia bombs in about 5 minutes than I would have thought possible. Then, they bring in the princesses. Yes, every Disney princess is in this movie, and they’re all amazing.  Almost all of them are portrayed by their original voice actresses. They even get a scene in which they work together to subvert the damsel-in-distress trope. It’s contrived, to be sure, but watching all of them use all of their skills in tandem and play off of each other ends up making it less corny and more awesome.

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Also, Merida has the best line in many movies. 

Overall, this is a great sequel, a great movie, has a lot of solid gags, and a message that actually is pretty unique for the genre. Oh, and it has the best mid-credits and after-credits meta-gags I’ve ever seen. Do not leave.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.