Plot: Max (Francis Capra) is a kid who finds himself in trouble all the time, partly because he has struggled since his father left the picture. He still sees his dad from time to time, but isn’t able to have the kind of relationship he wants, so he often acts out or falls into trouble as a result. After a group of bullies chase him into a rundown building, Max comes face to face with an unexpected ally, a massive dude named Kazaam (Shaq), who claims to be a genie. At first Max is skeptical and assumes Kazaam is some kind of deranged homeless man, but soon he demonstrates his power and Max realizes he now has three wishes at his disposal. As Max tries to cash in, Kazaam in turn wants to help in other ways, so that Max can improve his life without burning his wishes, all while Kazaam himself pursues a career in the hip hop world. But meanwhile, a nefarious crook eyes Kazaam’s power and makes plans to seize control of the genie, as Max hopes to use the power to reunite his family.
Entertainment Value: Kazaam has Shaq as a genie that raps and if you need more incentive than that to check out this movie, then perhaps you might not be the kind of person to appreciate Kazaam’s unique charms. As the premise should highlight, this is pure cheese and while not all viewers have a taste for this kind of madness, I think the film is immense fun. I concede that Kazaam entertains in unintentional ways perhaps, but the narrative is so bizarre and a lot of the choices are so offbeat, you have to think the filmmakers knew what the score was here. The movie delivers a lot of Shaq rolling off ridiculous, very simple rap sessions, with a focus on a mystical boombox that sprays out fireworks to close out his showstopping beats. The humor is broad and silly in nature, while the attempts at serious or emotional beats come off as ludicrous and add to the film’s camp value. The “so bad, it’s good” appeal is likely Kazaam’s main draw, aside from the absolutely bananas concept of Shaq as a rapping genie that tries to solve family drama in his spare time. Of course, some won’t appreciate the silliness and b movie vibes involved. But for those who enjoy wackiness and over the top movie mayhem, Kazaam is a fun ride.
I mentioned it several times above, but you have to credit Shaq for taking on this kind of obviously outlandish role and going for broke, as he puts a lot of enthusiasm and effort into his genie work here. A lot of celebrities would have phoned it in or just went through the motions, especially given how ridiculous the script is, but Shaq makes the most of the role and is a lot of fun to watch. His performance is what really pushes Kazaam from another forgettable, lackluster family comedy to a cult favorite of sorts, as he brings a lot to the table. A less energetic or sincere effort might have just gone unnoticed and this ludicrous gem would have lost its luster, but thankfully Shaq embraces the wackiness and the movie benefits from that. Marshall Manesh plays our villain and he also goes for broke, giving us a relentless, but family friendly bad guy this kind of material needs. Not to mention his small stature makes for some humorous moments, especially when he interacts with Shaq. Not to mention he is turned into a basketball through the power of genie magic, then slam dunked by Shaq, which is just epic. The cast also includes Francis Capra, Efren Ramirez, James Acheson, and Ally Walker.
The Disc: This 90s wackiness hits Blu-ray thanks to KL Studio Classics, who have issued a solid, clean presentation that might not be eye popping, but offers a noticeable bump in quality over the DVD edition. I think fine detail is sharper, which allows the image to open up more and feel more refined, while colors are as bright and bold as you’d expect from this kind of material. Again, this might not be reference level stuff, but fans should be quite pleased with how Kazaam looks in HD. The lone extra is the film’s theatrical trailer.