Making the Grades
Playing Kazaam, a genie with an inner city attitude, basketball star Shaquille O'Neal gets to ham it up in a huge way when he is discovered in an abandoned boom box by Max (Francis Capra). Max is being chased and beat upon by every kid he meets, his father has left the family and Max isn't impressed with his mom's new boyfriend. Enter Kazaam, who should be able to make everything better. However, after Kazaam helps Max find his real father, Max realizes that even a genie can't make someone change.
On paper, it sounds like a worthwhile movie. Surprisingly enough, O'Neal can actually act, and putting him into the role of a genie should create some interesting situations. Instead, the writers (or O'Neal's agent) got stuck on selling O'Neal as a rap personality rather than an actor. When we finally get a break from O'Neal's misplaced music, we fall back into the predictable story of the all-wise child trying to fix the unwise father.
Violence is an issue in Kazaam, with mob-like scenarios that include an electrocution and fighting -- even school is a frightening place. The adults in Max's world provide little support, with coined lines like those from his mom's boyfriend: "You don't like me, do you? I just want to be friends."
I feel for children who really live in these circumstances and don't have a genie to poof their problems away. If your children watch this movie, ask them what they think Max could do if he didn't have a genie? In the end, Max is able to erase his father's problems and give him a second chance. Again, see what your children think: Will Max's father improve his life? Often when solutions come easy, hard lessons are not learned.
Finally, see if your family can count all of the junk food being advertised in Kazaam, and if they notice how these special props are held to the camera. These hidden "commercials" pay a lot of bills in movies like this that do poorly at the box office.