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Film / Kazaam

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Drew: You know, the one where Shaq plays a genie.
The Killer: That's not a horror movie.
Drew: Well, you haven't seen Shaq act.

Kazaam is a 1996 comedy film where basketball star Shaquille O'Neal plays a rapping genie.

The story is about a kid named Maxwell "Max" Connor (Francis Capra) who stumbles into an abandoned building and finds a magic boombox containing Kazaam (Shaquille O'Neal): an actual genie. Naturally, the kid doesn't believe what he sees but Kazaam eventually manages to convince him that he's a legitimate genie that will grant him three wishes. Meanwhile, Alice Connor (Ally Walker) Max's mother is about to remarry and decided to confess that his real father actually lives in the same city as them. So Max decides to find him. It turns out his father Nick Matteo (James Acheson) is a musical talent agent who later "discovers" Kazaam. His evil boss finds out Kazaam is a genie and tries to figure out how to claim this power for himself.

Not to be confused with Shazzan which was a cartoon about an heroic genie, or with the similar-sounding Shazam! who's a superhero. Nor is it to be mistaken for the fictional Mandela Effect-induced Shazaam, starring Sinbad in the titular role.

Tropes included:

  • Benevolent Genie: And a hip one at that.
  • Be the Ball: During the climax Kazaam uses his magic to turn the villain into a ball and slam dunks him into a garbage chute. Gotta show off those Shaq hoop skills...
  • Big "NO!": Kazaam yells "No" when he sees Max seemingly dead at the end of the film.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: The villain, Malik.
  • Character Title: The film is named after Shaq's character, the genie Kazaam.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Max's father works for a music company that specializes in piracy.
  • Disappeared Dad: Subverted because Max later finds him. Too bad he's sort of a Jerkass.
  • Disney Death: Max. Not surprising.
  • Dull Surprise: Shaq. When he's not the Large Ham, of course.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: The genie doesn't believe in fairy tales. The GENIE, a magical creature, doesn't believe in fairy tales. Maybe he's really a cynic who was disillusioned by the fact that not all of the wishes he granted made his previous owners happy.
  • Gainax Ending: Kazaam at the end glows for some reason, brings Max back to life, and somehow transforms into some ethereal form, becoming a djinn. The novelization clarifies this by explaining that Max had unwittingly freed Kazaam and allowed him to become a djinn, with no limitations on his powers anymore, because his last wish came from his heart (namely, wishing for his dad to have a second chance) rather than being a selfish material wish.
  • Genie in a Bottle: In Kazaam's case, a boombox. He was in a lamp originally, then the lamp crashed into a boombox when the building it stood in was demolished, causing the transfer. The novelization expands on this by having Kazaam explain that he actually transferred from a lamp into a series of other objects over time, with the boombox just being the latest.
  • Heel–Face Turn: At the end, Max's father refuses to work for Malik anymore, especially when his son is endangered. He willingly allows himself to be taken by the authorities, but not before he tells Max he'll clean up and hopes they can rekindle their relationship.
  • "I Am" Song: "I Am Kazaam".
  • Jackass Genie: Averted. Kazaam actually goes out of his way several times to make sure Max's wishes are specifically what he asked for, and even forms a bond with Max during their time together.
  • Jerkass: Malik, who wants to enslave Kazaam and kills Max near the end.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Max's dad. He's mostly a jerk, but ultimately proves that he'd do anything to protect his son.
  • Kick the Dog: When Malik taunts Kazaam about having killed Max and has Kazaam tortured under his control.
  • Large Ham: Shaq, when he's not going for Dull Surprise.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Genies like Kazaam can't grant "ethereal" wishes involving things like love or hope, only wishes for material objects. Subverted at the climax, where Kazaam becomes a djinn and can grant wishes involving the ethereal.
  • Magical Negro: Kazaam. Literally.
  • Parental Abandonment: Max's Dad has been missing for a long time.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Wish Not Granted."
  • Product Placement: At one point, Kazaam makes it rain candy and snacks. All of which are brand name products.
  • Pun: At one point in his "rap", Kazaam says "Let's Green Egg and HAM it!"
  • Sadly Mythtaken: A major plot point is Kazaam's desire to become a djinn, which he describes as a genie that's been freed from servitude (which he achieves in the ending). Unfortunately, "djinn" is either simply the plural of genie, or just another term for genie which can be used interchangeably; either way there is absolutely NO distinction between the two words.