Kazaam is a 1996 American fantasy family musical comedy film directed by Paul Michael Glaser, starring Shaquille O'Neal as the title character Kazaam.
It was released on July 17, 1996 and was both a critical disaster and a box office bomb, barely grossing $19 million on its $20 million budget.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
The movie begins with a big wrecking ball destroying an abandoned building and the impact knocks over a magic lamp inside of the building, causing it to land on a boombox. The genie inside decides to make residence inside the boombox from there on in.
Meanwhile, a boy named Max (Francis Capra) is at school when he is confronted by a gang of bullies, who hold him on the bathroom floor and spray paint his outline.
The bullies end up chasing Max through Brooklyn. Max is chased into the abandoned building, where he discovers the boombox and accidentally unleashes the genie inside. The genie, who introduces himself as Kazaam (Shaquille O'Neal) tells Max that he is now his genie and proves it to him by demonstrating his powers which results in Kazaam disappearing off the face of the earth.
Max comes home and learns that his mother is marrying a fireman named Travis. It is revealed that his mother lied to him about his real father's whereabouts & that he is actually located in the city.
Max set out to look for his father hoping to rekindle some sort of bond between them. He suddenly encounters Kazaam during his travels, who pesters Max into making a wish. Max eventually finds his dad and learns that he is a musical talent agent who specializes in unauthorized music.
Max goes to his personal secret hideout and tells Kazaam about his father. They decide to have a bike race through Max's hideout, during which Kazaam shows off his powers. Kazaam finally convinces Max to make his first wish, which consists of junk food raining from the sky.
While eating all the food, Max suddenly realizes that he owns Kazaam until he makes his last two wishes. Max and Kazaam go out to see Max's father again. After getting past an intimidating bodyguard, Max is introduced by his father to the other employees of the agency and invited to a nightclub.
Malik (Marshall Manesh) (the owner of the nightclub) shows interest in Kazaam after realizing that he is a genie, and he hopes to control Kazaam through Max's father. The next day, Kazaam stays in Max's home and passes himself off as Max's tutor.
Max confesses to Kazaam that he and his dad aren't really connecting even though Kazaam attempts to shirk the issue with some rapping. Max attempts to wish for his father and mother to fall back in love, but Kazaam cannot grant this wish because he is not a djinn, and is not allowed to grant ethereal wishes.
Later that day, Max witnesses his father being assaulted by Malik and his minions and goes to Kazaam for help. Kazaam just received a record deal as a professional rapper and is unable to help Max out.
Max is kidnapped by Malik and takes possession of Kazaam's boombox. After he pushes Max down an elevator shaft, Malik summons Kazaam in the hopes that he will do his bidding. While Kazaam is initially powerless against his master, he soon breaks free from his oppression and defeats Malik and his minions. He transforms Malik into a basketball and slam dunks him into a garbage disposal.
However, Kazaam discovers Max's lifeless body and wishes that he could have granted Max's wish to give his dad a second chance at life. Then, in his sorrow, he finally becomes a djinn and is therefore able to do this for Max. With him officially becoming a djinn, Kazaam pulls Max out of harm's way and carried out of the burning building by Travis.
Max's father then shows up and tells him that he hopes to rekindle the bonding with him before he takes off with authorities. Kazaam is then last seen walking off being grilled by his girlfriend because he doesn't have a job while at the same time, he is feeling ecstatic over his newfound freedom.
- Shaquille O'Neal as Kazaam
- Francis Capra as Max Connor
- Ally Walker as Alice Connor
- James Acheson as Nick Matteo
- John Costelloe as Travis
- Marshall Manesh as Malik
- Efren Ramirez as Carlos
- Da Brat as Herself
- Jake Glaser as Jake
- Deidra Roper as Spinderella
- Fawn Reed as Asia Moon
"Kazaam" was filmed from April 3, 1995 to September 21, 1995 in Los Angeles, California and Brooklyn, New York.
"Kazaam" opened at #8 at the box office, grossing $18,937,262 during its opening weekend and grossed $18,937,262 domestically.
"Kazaam" received extremely negative reviews from film critics and currently holds a 6% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 33 reviews, and a 24 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars, writing: "Shaq has already proven he can act (in Blue Chips, the 1994 movie about college basketball). Here he shows he can be likable in a children's movie. What he does not show is good judgment in his choice of material. [...] the filmmakers didn't care to extend themselves beyond the obvious commercial possibilities of their first dim idea."
Esther Iverem from the Washington Post wrote in her review: "The other reason "Kazaam" fails is because it fights with itself. It was obviously created as a vehicle for O'Neal, who is also a professional rapper."
Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle said the movie "doesn't stray from the formula. But it is original enough to come up with new ways to go wrong."
David Armstrong of the San Francisco Examiner wrote: "Despite the punch-ups, newfangled effects and commercialism - Kazaam causes it to rain the very brand of candy bars that Shaq endorses - the movie is decidedly old-fashioned, aiming to send kids and their parents out of the theater feeling good about themselves."
In Marjorie Baumgarten (from the Austin Chronicle)'s review, she wrote: "[Shaquille] O'Neal is really not half-bad in his feature film debut as the genie Kazaam. Yet when surrounded by an “all-bad” movie, “not half-bad” is hardly good enough."
Shaquille O'Neal's performance in "Kazaam" was considered poor and has since been referenced in a number of movies, mainly either criticizing his acting or gloating about it.
However, O'Neal has not expressed regret for making the movie. In a 2012 interview with GQ magazine, he 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."
Due to the negative feedback of "Kazaam," Paul Michael Glaser has not directed another film since.