Shaq’s Kazaam, baby! And all our wishes come true. When Max finds a magic boombox with a genie inside he’s ready to use his wishes to try to get his dad back in his life. But an eeeevil nightclub owner has different ideas. Can Shaq and Max team up to stop the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Kazaam.
How?! Max is a trouble maker who’s always being hassled by the older kids in his class. Add a mom who just got engaged to a firefighter who WILL NEVER BE HIS REAL DAD and Max is having a bit of a tough time. One day, while escaping from the school bullies, he stumbles upon a magic boombox and *poof* out pops Shaq, ready to slam dunk and shatter the backboard of all his dreams. That’s because he’s a genie and until Max gives him three wishes to grant he’s stuck with him. Max is like “yeah, whatever,” and lets the supposed genie tag along to visit his dad, who’s back in town after bailing on him when he was just a baby. The dad is thrilled to see Max and sets him up with some VIP passes for a big concert that night. Riding high off this reunion, Max finally entertains the possibility that Shaq is a genie and Shaq in turn entertains us with some totally dope raps and BMX bike races. Finally Max asks for his first wish: junk food to the sky and *poof* there it is. Man, now Max has a father and a genie. What more could a kid wish for? Well, not so fast, cause that night they sneak to the big concert and Shaq is instantly a star, rapping his way into the show to everyone’s delight (particularly the eeevil club owner). Max tries to see his dad, but happens upon him in the midst of a shady deal with the club owner and is yelled at instead. Sad, Max tips off the school bullies about the shady deal and they end up stealing a valuable tape that could mean trouble for Max’s dad. Feeling bad, and getting yelled at by his dad again, Max sadly asks for Shaq to conjure a replacement tape, leaving him with only one wish. Later that night Shaq is distracted by his burgeoning music career so doesn’t notice that the eeevil club owner murders Max and steal the magic boom box. Enraged, Shaq breaks free of his bonds and slam dunks the club owner (literally… like actually does that). He then transforms into a djinn and brings Max back to life after which he grants his father a second chance since now he is all powerful and can do that shit. Max lives happily ever after with his new family while his father repents the error of his ways. THE END.
Why?! Love and family. That’s all the kid wants. Fortunately Shaq goes all djinn on him and is able to grant him an ethereal wish, am I right? Everyone else is driven by greed, other than Shaq… he mostly wants freedom (naturally)… the freedom to have a crazy big rap career and to get down with the ladies again. High five.
Who?! Shaq is a supreme athlete-turned-musician-turned-actor and boy does he show his rapping skillz… … … anyway, Da Brat also shows up and everyone is like yo, she’s all that. I also have to point out that the main child actor in this, Francis Capra, grew up to play Weevil in Veronica Mars. Kinda mind blowing.
What?! A fun project would be to categorize all films by Coke vs. Pepsi. In this case, Shaq saps on Pepsi while he wait for his big concert to start. I feel like we’ve been on an insane Pepsi run (although the main series of Police Academy is squarely in the Coke camp). Really the most fun aspect of this would be when you get that random Tab film and are like WTF, mate?
Where?! This is pretty obviously set in NYC. I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily a great NYC film other than the fact that Max’s mom’s fiance is a New York city firefighter, which seems pretty classic. Given the setting I wonder whether you would characterize Shaq as an East Coast rapper. Born in New Jersey, grew up in Texas, playing basketball in Orlando, and about to move to LA. But obviously playing an NYC-based rapping genie trumps all that. East Coast. B.
When?! School year. I’ve started to think that this section of the email is too much work unless we are dealing with a holiday film (secret or otherwise). I think my main goal here will be to mostly promote the idea of finding out when random films take place rather than actually putting in the effort myself. Either that or insist we only watch secret Christmas films from now on. This is an F, but maybe one of our many fans will find differently and correct me (please?).
I’m going to start with some positives. The main kid is pretty good actually and I’m a bit of a sucker for kids films with some nice messages mixed in there. Troublemaker comes to respect his all-around-good-guy of a future stepfather while also realizing his biological father is flawed and helps steer him towards redemption? Sign me up. Also the raps are entertaining, although silly in a kids movie kind of way. As for the rest of the film? Well, it’s nonsense of course. It’s so “rad” that it is immeasurably lame and Shaq appears to have little interest in anything but showing off his rap skillz. I would guess that this movie could have been about anything, but if they let him rap and paid him the big bucks he would have said yes. “Rapping Paul Bunyan? I’m in.” Eventually it gets a little repetitive and boring that even when a crazy Middle Eastern stereotype kills Max by throwing him down an elevator shaft I barely batted an eye. I was like “sure, sure, just get on with it.” So overall I’d say solid, but not spectacular for a BMT kids film. As for Getting Lucky, I don’t have all that much to say. You can see what Troma was up to. Kind of an indie horror/comedy grindhouse production house that made films attuned to the vision of the head of the studio. You really get a sense that he made exactly what he wanted to see, which is interesting, but also comes off as on the same level as a college film production. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We got Shaq! We got Da Brat! We got a B-story that goes for miles and results in the cold-blooded murder of a child! Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – Everything about this film revolves around the B-plot. The B-plot is all I really remember about the film. The B-plot is one of the main things that perplexed reviewers at the time. The trailer actually makes the film look fun, but I know that’s a trick because there is nary a mention of music piracy, so it must only be showing half of the movie. As I said in the preview: recut Kazaam into just the B-plot. I dare you to, you cowards. What were my expectations? To like Shaq and also to love this B-plot. If this B-plot doesn’t go for days then I’m going to be furious.
The Good – I think with distance (and a whole lot more Shaq in our lives) his entire section of the film is pretty delightful. The kid actor is good, his interactions with him are fun, the way they dance around him being able to grant wishes and other silliness is amusing. The actual kids’ movie (complete with cameo by Da Brat, somehow a staple of the time) in the movie is actually not the worst thing in the world. Throw in a healthy dose of teaching kids that divorce isn’t their fault and step-dads can be pretty cool, and what’s now to love? Best Bit: Shaq, he’s a cheesy actor, but oozes charm.
The Bad – I remembered the B-plot of the film (and also that the kid falls a few stories multiple times during the film) … but no matter what I remembered I still couldn’t help but burst out laughing when Max’s father mentioned his “million dollar tape” and “music piracy” scheme. I guess the screenwriters must have known Shaq was coming on board, and they knew Shaq wanted to rap in the film, and so they needed some reason for Max to be in danger because of that … but music piracy? So weird. Without that the film is just a bog-standard kids film. With it it transcends B-plots and becomes something else entirely. Oh, and yeah, the kid actually is killed at the end which was pretty confusing for a hot second before you remember there is a genie who can bring him back to life. Fatal Flaw: A B-plot so ludicrous it blinded everyone to any virtue the film otherwise might have had.
The BMT – This is like Nine Lives on steroids. Nine Lives wishes it had the B-plot of Kazaam. Here’s the thing, Kazaam isn’t that entertaining. At times it is mostly just Max crying about his father and is somewhat sad (and the bullying in the film is off the chain, Max gets the shit kicked out of him a bunch). But the B-plot? It is the quintessential example. I could be misremembering something, but this has to be the best B-plot ever made, right? And it wasn’t by accident they definitely added it in after Shaq was attached. Legendary. Did it meet my expectations? And more, but I should be clear: I never want to watch Kazaam again. It just has the best B-plot in children’s film history.
Roast-radamus – I have to say, a legendary Cameo (Who?) by Da Brat (who, you might remember, was the musical guest on the second episode of All that, so yeah, lot’s of appearances of Da Brat in my life at the time). In the end I decided it was a really solid Product Placement (What?) for Pepsi in particular, although there are arguments for Jif and M&Ms among many others. And the Setting as a Character (Where?) for NYC is really good as Max’s obvious failure by the New York City public school system is a subject of much consternation by his mother. I think closest to BMT, mainly, again, for the B-plot.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Imagine if they made a Sequel? And I got the perfect plot. Kazaam, an all powerful Djinn is now doing his thing in LA. He’s rapping, producing music, starring in movies, the works. But one day his powers start fading. What could it mean? Reading up on Djinn lore, he realizes that the moment he saved Max’s life it created a connection, as long as Max’s bloodline is doing well, he keeps his powers, but if he fails them he becomes mortal. Going back to NYC he finds Max, a famous inventor, but his family isn’t doing well. His son has fallen in with a gang, and Max just doesn’t know what to do. Well, Kazaam knows what to do. He makes Max into a genie, and tasks him with helping his son out of his predicament. There is a fun montage of Kazaam showing Max how to make wishes, and Max is disguised as Shaq so his son won’t know (double the Shaq!). And in the end, Max learns a valuable lesson in love, and his son stands up for himself and comes back home. And Kazaam? Well, he’s back to full power baby! Ka2aam. You know that is how it would be stylized and you hate it. Look into your heart, you know it to be true!
Bring a Friend Analysis – We really went with a curve ball this week and watched Getting Lucky a 1990 Troma distributed film made guerrilla style with nary a professional actor in sight. The film is pretty weird, but because it is Troma it also somehow manages to be weird enough to be interesting. To really boil it down, a boy finds a leprechaun in a beer bottle and gets three wishes and uses them to get the girl of his dreams. After the first attempted rape scene, I was like Tony should be in prison. After the second, I was like man the 90s were wild, Tony should be in prison. But then after the third when Tony DOES go to prison? I was blown away. The film knowingly winks at the camera with the final horseback chase scene and shish kabob fight, and barely has a plot, but something about it is compelling. It is a little like a Neil Breen film in that you eventually acclimate to Michael Paul Girard’s weird vision and enjoy it on some level beyond what the actual movie provides. But I’m still giving it a B-. It is just a hard sell considering the subject matter and the script which seems like it was barely written by a 12-year-old boy. Maybe someday I’ll be able to put it into better context within the Troma oeuvre.