Kazaam Preview

Jamie and Lindsey turn a corner heading for the stairs to the rooftop only to stop short at the sight of the cyborg bad movie twins. They are talking with a man hidden in the shadows who shouts for the cyborgs to stop them. Scrambling up to the roof, Jamie follows the steamy water pipe until finally he and Lindsey stand by two dials. “Here goes nothing,” they say, initiating the emergency electronic wash. With a loud boom they are blown backwards across the rooftop, landing at the feet of the cyborgs. But before they can destroy Jamie and Lindsey with their fearsome robot strength a voice rings out, “not so fast!” Freed from their computer simulation prison by the water and returned to their young, super athletic bodies, Patrick and Kyle stand ready for a fight. The shadowy figure approaches, slowly clapping. “Impressive,” he says softly, “I knew you were clever Patrick, but I didn’t think you had it in you to match wits with me. Certainly not your meathead brother there and his sad bunch of friends. But I guess there was some reason you always were our publisher’s favorite.” And with that he steps from the shadows and Jamie and Patrick gasp. That piece of shit Manfred Long. “You goddamn hack,” Patrick spits, “I should have known if there was anyone who would shamelessly rip-off the BMT brand it would be you.” But Manfred just chuckles at that and waves the Cyborgs over to Jamie, Kyle, and Lindsey. “Take them,” he says, “I want to have a little chat with Patrick here. See if we can’t make a deal. I now have the power to make any wish you want come true… as long as you play ball.” And with that he holds up the Obsidian Dongle. That’s right! It’s the original Wishmaster of the NBA (as everyone called him) Shaq and the 90’s rapping genie classic Kazaam. I think probably this was just a bit past prime time for Patrick and I so I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Let’s go!

The cyborgs approach Jamie, Kyle and Lindsey with their evil dead eyes glowing red. Gulp! Looks like the end for our heroes, that is until they hear a whistle from above and they see Rachel the Pretzel Girl soaring in on one of their hang gliders. “You feeling lucky, punks?” she shouts and Kyle pumps his fist at her wholly original quote. Let’s go! We are taking a risk with a Troma film for the Kazaam pairing and watching Getting Lucky about a Leprechaun that gives a nerd a chance at… well, getting lucky. Let’s go!

Kazaam (1996) – BMeTric: 83.8; Notability: 30

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 0.4%; Notability: top 28.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 2.5%; Higher BMeT: Barb Wire; Higher Notability: Eraser, The Fan, Spy Hard, Jingle All The Way, Chain Reaction, Daylight, Eddie, The Associate, Up Close & Personal, Mulholland Falls, Dear God, Sgt. Bilko, Eye for an Eye, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Crow: City of Angels, Space Truckers, In Love and War, Joe’s Apartment, High School High, and 50 more; Lower RT: The Dentist, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, Ed, Big Bully, Ripe, Bio-Dome; Notes: Wow that BMeTric is gaudy. How have we avoided doing this film until now? A sub-3.0 on IMDb is absurd for such a wide release, it is incredible.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – “Kazaam” is a textbook example of a filmed deal, in which adults assemble a package that reflects their own interests and try to sell it to kids. How else to explain a children’s movie where the villains are trying to steal a bootleg recording so they can sell pirated copies of it? What do kids know, or care, about that? The movie stars Shaquille O’Neal, the Orlando Magic’s superstar center, as Kazaam, a genie who is released from captivity in an old boom box and has to perform three wishes for a little kid (Francis Capra). Right there you have a wonderful illustration of the movie’s creative bankruptcy. Assigned to construct a starring vehicle for Shaq, the filmmakers looked at him, saw a tall bald black man, and said, “Hey, he can be a genie!” At which point, somebody should have said, “OK, that’s level one. Now let’s take it to level three.” 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. This is a tired concept, written by the numbers. Kids old enough to know about Shaq as a basketball star will be too old to enjoy the movie. Younger kids won’t find much to engage them. And O’Neal shouldn’t have used the movie to promote his own career as a rap artist; the soundtrack sounds less like music to entertain kids than like a trial run for a Shaq album.

(Wow, he cuts right to the core. And yeah, that’s called a great B-plot. This movie sounds kind of amazing for that reason alone, I love B-plots that make no sense for a kids movie.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFVaxa1UKNg/

(Looks fun. Although now I remember why we haven’t done this one yet … it’s a kids movie. This is definitively a kids movie. Just give me all B-plot. Recut the entire film into just the B-plot.)

DirectorsPaul Michael Glaser – (Known For: The Running Man; The Cutting Edge; Future BMT: Band of the Hand; The Air Up There; BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Nominated for an Emmy for directing an episode of Miami Vice. He played Starsky in Starsky and Hutch. He also directed a great Criminal Minds episode starring Jason Alexander called Masterpiece.)

WritersPaul Michael Glaser – (BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Interestingly his only real attempt at writing apparently. I have to imagine he did uncredited stuff previously and probably just did too much tickering as the director and got a credit.)

Christian Ford – (BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Wrote an episode of Deep Space Nine which I can already tell I was probably fuming at since Kai Winn played a big role in it (she was a central long-running villain in the show).)

Roger Soffer – (Known For: Throne of Elves; BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Was Ford’s writing partner. Looks like they must have parted ways at some point since Soffer got his Throne of Elves credit in 2017 well after the bulk of their writing work.)

ActorsShaquille O’Neal – (Known For: Hubie Halloween; The Lego Movie; The House Bunny; What Men Want; Uncle Drew; Thunderstruck; Future BMT: Scary Movie 4; Good Burger; After the Sunset; The Smurfs 2; Blue Chips; The Wash; BMT: Grown Ups 2; Blended; Jack and Jill; Freddy Got Fingered; Kazaam; Steel; Show Dogs; Chairman of the Board; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Steel in 1998; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Blended in 2015; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Blue Chips in 1995; Notes: Y’all know Shaq. Probably the best NBA actor ever, even if he doesn’t always choose the best roles. A four time NBA champion with the Lakers and Heat, he might be the most dominant big man in history (and if not that, he’s at least the most unique given his body shape).)

Francis Capra – (Known For: A Bronx Tale; SLC Punk!; Veronica Mars; Blood and Bone; Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home; Rampart; Black Irish; Dishdogz; Future BMT: A Simple Wish; BMT: Crank; Kazaam; Notes: Not related to Frank Capra. Amazingly I recognize him mostly from his adult role as Eli Navarro (Weevil) in Veronica Mars. He looks quite different now obviously.)

Ally Walker – (Known For: While You Were Sleeping; Singles; Happy, Texas; Welcome to Hollywood; When the Bough Breaks; Mischief Night; Wonderful World; Eye of the Storm; The Seventh Coin; Future BMT: Bed of Roses; Steal Big Steal Little; BMT: Universal Soldier; Kazaam; Notes: Has been pretty much continuously employed in major television roles since the mid-90s besides taking a 10 year break while she was raising a family in the early 2000s. Was the star of the show Profiler.)

Budget/Gross – $20 million / Domestic: $18,937,262 (Worldwide: $18,937,262)

(Yep, a huge bomb, and likely Ebert is right in this case. There is no way this didn’t derail any cinematic career Shaq could have had (well … until he became a staple of Adam Sandler comedies I suppose, he was in at least four of those).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (2/37): Crafted from a mix of genre clichés, Kazaam doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be, and Shaq’s larger-than-life charisma is stifled by rote filmmaking and an unimaginative story.

(Yeah, sounds about right. Two good reviews, and they basically just say Shaq is charming and the film old-school but fine.)

Reviewer Highlight: Kazaam never brings off the trick we most want to see: It fails to make the jolly, 7-foot-1 Shaq larger than life. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Poster – Sha-blam

(Love the font, hate everything else. Like Ebert said it makes you wonder about the choices Shaq was making at the time. Like he can actually act and is charming as hell and yet he apparently was so keen on being a rapper that he did this shit. The poster looks like it’s for a straight-to-video talking cat movie or something. D)

Tagline(s) – The world’s most powerful genie has just met his match. (F)

(The world’s most powerful genie… as opposed to all those less powerful genies we are familiar with? It’s amazing that they were so set on using this generic tagline that they tried to force it. It no longer even makes sense. I think I hate it… yup, I hate it.)

Keyword(s) – genie

Top 10: Aladdin (2019), Bedazzled (2000), Aladdin (1992), Weird Science (1985), Aladdin (2020), Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road (2002), Kazaam (1996), Burying the Ex (2014), The Tale of Despereaux (2008), Five Children and It (2004)

Future BMT: 13.9 Three Wishes (1995)

BMT: Kazaam (1996)

Matches: Kazaam (1996), The Lamp (1987), Miracle Beach (1992), Wishman (1992), Pretty Cool Too (2007), Wish Me Luck (1995), Djinn (2008), Wildest Dreams (1990), The Incredible Genie (1999), Shivers Down Your Spine (2015), Jinn (2016), Wishful Thinking the Series (2015)

(So few films with a genie … that somehow feels wrong, but yet, yeah … an all powerful, immortal being doesn’t leave much original storytelling ideas. The actual matches are mostly pretty small, Kazaam is the only major release. That is, if you want to be specific about the difference between a Djinn and a genie (this movie certainly does …))

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Efren Ramirez is No. 4 billed in Kazaam and No. 4 billed in Crank, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (4 + 4) + (1 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 14. If we were to watch Blue Chips, and Three Fugitives we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – Despite the fact that this film was a critical and financial disaster, Shaquille O’Neal has not expressed regret for his involvement. He said in a 2012 interview, “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.”

John Costelloe plays a firefighter in this movie. In real life, he was a firefighter for 11 years before retiring in 1998. He also played a volunteer firefighter in The Sopranos (1999).

The main villain’s name is Malik, which is the Arabic word for king.

This movie is part of the false memory phenomenon (also called the “Mandela Effect”). According to many people, there was a movie named “Shazaam” starring Sinbad as the genie. This false memory was probably caused by a mix-up with this film and a costume Sinbad wore in 1994 when he hosted a TV broadcast of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). For April Fools’ Day 2017, the team of CollegeHumor Originals (2006) filmed a skit about alleged VHS footage of the Shazaam movie, with Sinbad starring as the genie.

Paul Michael Glaser’s last movie as a director, as of July 2021. He continues to direct television.

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