Kazaam (1996)

Shaquille O’Neal is well known for his basketball career. That is a piece of Trivia that 16 out of 93 people found interesting, on Kazaam’s IMDb page. Movies that usually centre around an athlete with no acting ability are usually hoping to cash in on that performer’s popularity and make money regardless of quality. However, despite being awful, I quite enjoyed this movie.

Max is an annoying child who stumbles across a boombox containing a magical genie that offers to grant him three wishes. The rest of the film is Max trying to avoid his genie whilst reluctantly making wishes. I find it very difficult to like anybody who doesn’t react to finding their own genie with glee. Everybody has dreamed about getting three wishes, trying to find the loophole to give you more wishes, convincing yourself you’d wish to save the planet when, if push comes to shove, you’d wish for a new PlayStation or something equally as selfish. Max reacts to Kazaam’s presence the same way he would if he was on holiday with a slightly handsy history professor. 

Max is a bit of a delinquent, yet still the target for bullies. He spends portions of the film seeking his dad’s approval when his dad doesn’t even recognise him. Never once thinking to wish for some easy remedy to solve this, no he wishes for it to rain junk food in one single room. He then eats some sweets and leaves. It made me quite angry how badly this kid messed up his wishes.

The villain of this movie is an Arabian man who eats eyes. He makes Jafar look like a pussy.

Now let’s address the Shaq in the room. Kazaam is a terrible genie. Instead of staying by Max’s side and helping his with bullies, understanding his mother’s new relationship, and all his daddy issues, Kazaam tries to pursue a rap career and get off with women. He likes to rap but he’s more Dr Seuss than Dr Dre. In a 2012 interview Shaq said

“”I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said, ‘Hey, here’s $7 million, come in and do this genie movie.’ What am I going to say, no? So I did it.”

Let’s talk money

This film had a budget of $20 million. 35% of that budget was spent on Shaq’s salary. Like I said in the opening paragraph, films starring non actors in lead roles are usually doing it hit a certain fan base and to make money regardless how shit the movie is. People will say “hey, there is Shaq. I like his from the basketball. Let’s go and see this movie. It looks awful but at least we get to see Shaq”. Well this film flopped, making back just under $19 Million. Now it could have made more on Video and broke even, but that isn’t great.

Looking for a Positive

Shaquille O’Neal isn’t an actor and it would be unfair to expect wonderful things from him here. But, despite being crap, I found him extremely watchable. All his emotions are conveyed using just his eyebrows. They are like two caterpillars fighting. I really enjoyed his presence in this movie, and he genuinely made me smile on several occasions. I liked him, I didn’t expect to but I did. He could be on stage doing a rap or force feeding a small boy some toast, it was engaging. 

Would I recommend this movie

I enjoyed Shaq in this movie, but everything else was awful. It is almost as if the producers purposely made everyone and everything look bad in order to elevate Shaq. Despite the main kid being annoying, the story being weak, wishes being wasted, bad acting, and bad music, I quite enjoyed this film and that is all down to Shaq. Despite scoring 6% on Rotten Tomatoes and being ranked 30# on IMDbs bottom rated movies (at the time of writing), I would recommend this movie. It is silly, it is stupid, it is badly written, but Shaq is in it and that is a good thing.

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