Kazaam (1996)

Hey, Stop Rhyming

The painful realization that a lot of my friends are douche bags came when I sent out an open request for review recommendations. Some people sent me requests of good movies they wanted my opinion on. Others sent requests for bad movies they wanted me to make fun of. Still others requested that I watch Kazaam in order to punish me for trying something creative and new in my life. One such person is my friend David, who made me watch Kazaam. But I don’t care. I kind of wanted to see this movie so I could add it to my repetoir. This movie is one of those classic movies that are so bad that I feel like I need to see it just so I know for sure. And now I do. Let’s hear about Kazaam, directed by Paul Michael Glaser, and starring Shaquille O’Neal, Francis Capra, Ally Walker, John Costelloe, James Acheson, Da Brat, and a small part by Efren Ramirez (who you might know from his performance as Pedro from that really overrated movie, Napoleon Dynamite). I also wanted to point out that Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have a writer listed for this movie, which seems appropriate.

Max Connor (Francis Capra) is a kid with really bad toofeses that gets picked on, probably mainly based on his dental problems. One day, while running from a group of Mexican bullies (one of which is Efren Ramirez), he comes across a boombox that releases a gigantic black man that scares off the children by rhyming at them poorly. This giant black man is the genie Kazaam (Shaquille O’Neal), and he needs to grant Max three wishes. At first, Max is skeptical, paying no mind to the fact that this giant black guy just appeared out of mid air, but he eventually comes around and starts making poor decisions in his wish making. Back at home, Max is having trouble with his mom (Ally Walker) because she wants to get married to Travis (John Costelloe) but Max thinks the world revolves around him and that she should’ve gotten his permission first. Max goes off to find his real dad, Nick (James Acheson), and finds out he’s not that great of a guy, but, of course, Max prefers him. Eventually, some Indian guy tries to take Kazaam’s boombox to gain Kazaam’s power, kidnaps Max’s father, then pushes Max down an elevator shaft. Kazaam pretty much kills or beats down all of the Indian guy’s henchmen, brings Max back to life with the genie promotion he gets at the end for befriending Max, and blah blah blah the end.

This is probably going to surprise you all, but this movie blows. I would say this movie has a lot in common with Aladdin … if Aladdin sucked and had a NBA guy in it. I suppose this movie is a comedy, but that’s only my best guess. It makes many attempts at comedy, but never comes remotely close. It’s kind of a kids movie too, being that all the comedy and the story itself is fairly juvenile, slap-sticky, and stupid, but there’s also some mature stuff in it that would make it unappealing to kids. I don’t think kids really want to see movies about divorce, but they especially don’t need to see Shaquille O’Neal punch a guy into a generator, horribly electrocuting him and starting a fire that may have killed a few more people (my attention had waned by this point), nor do they really want to see the young hero of the movie get pushed down an elevator shaft to his death. Granted, the deaths weren’t gory or anything, and the little kid came back to life, but it’s a little dark for the only people that might think this movie was funny. I would say that the basic premise of the movie could’ve worked if they hired funny writers and an actor to star in it. A kids movie about a genie showing up in present time could certainly work in the right hands, but that’s not where it was put. The movie also made many strange musical choices, mainly letting Shaq rap. I know that there was a time when he fancied himself a rapper, but – judging by this movie – he should probably stick to basketball. He has a particularly painful rap duet with the little kid, Max, and a few more performances as Kazaam starts becoming a rapper for some reason. Also, he spoke mainly in rhymes written by someone who had just purchased a thesaurus and was dying to put it to use. Heck, the mere fact that so much rap was in a movie that was mainly about a honkey was a strange decision. And then they use hip hop on the boombox that Shaq’s genie appears out of, which makes me wonder how long it took them to step down to that in the stereotype scale from Shaq coming out of a bucket of chicken.

May I go off on a tangent about genies here for a second? I’m not actually asking; these are my reviews and I do what I wants. But why do most people waste their first wish so badly? In this movie, Max’s first wish is for a car. Being around 12, I assume he has no good use for said vehicle. When Kazaam can’t deliver that because of his boombox rust, the first wish he delivers on is a mountain of junk food. …Good one, Max. You can choose from any material possession in the world and you choose a mountain of junk food and not Jessica Alba. …Or, y’know, something meaningful. At least Aladdin tries with his wishes. He tricks the genie into getting them out of a fatal situation for Aladdin, but then wishes to be super rich in order to bag the potentially hottest Disney princess, Jasmine. It doesn’t work out too well, but at least he tried! And yeah, I’m sure we’ve both noticed that I only have one example to back up the premise of this paragraph, and even that was a flimsy one. Why are you people so critical?! Anyway, back to trashing on Kazaam.

Another thing that may surprise you about this movie is that Shaquille O’Neal is not a very good actor. I can only presently remember seeing him in Steel and Kazaam, but he’s apparently also in Good Burger (though I don’t remember him in it). I feel that three movies is plenty good enough to say that this man should probably not act anymore. And, though I’ve only seen it in one movie, I also think he shouldn’t rap anymore. I didn’t like Max either. He wasn’t particularly good and he got on my nerves more often than naught, beyond just having totally messed up toofeses. I think the only reason he got picked on by those Mexican bullies was because he was kind of a cocky prick. Every time they caught him, he’d offer them then some piece of information they didn’t request that would later get him into more trouble with them. “You want $2 out of my wallet? How about a key to a storage closet filled with expensive things? There wasn’t anything in there? Well I have back stage passes to a big event because I have lots of money that I’ll give you! Oh I don’t have that either, but, if it makes you feel better, the writers will probably forget to tie up your part of the story anyways.” Beyond those two, no one else made any impression. Max’s mom was hot, though. Also, it was interesting to see “Da Brat” in this movie since she fell off the face of the planet shortly after she arrived on it.

I feel like there were no surprises in this review, but hopefully it was entertaining. You should not have come into this review thinking Kazaam even could be a good movie, or that Shaq would be a good actor, or rapper, for that matter. And you were right! My first wish will be that you not see this movie. My second wish is Jessica Alba, and my third is more wishes. In your face, Robin Williams! I’ll give this movie “You smell like hippopotamus butt” out of “Trumpy! You can do stupid things!” That hippopotamus thing is actually a line from this movie. Fer seriously.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!