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Kazaam poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Garcia
Produced by Paul M. Glaser
Scott Kroopf
Bob Engelman
Screenplay by Christian Ford
Roger Soffer
Story by Paul M. Glaser
Starring Shaquille O'Neal
Francis Capra
Ally Walker
James Acheson
Music by Christopher Tyng
Cinematography Charles Minsky
Edited by Tom McMurtry
Michael E. Polakow
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Release dates
  • July 17, 1996 (1996-07-17)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $18.9 million[1]

Kazaam is a 1996 American fantasy family musical comedy film directed by Paul M. Glaser and stars Shaquille O'Neal as the title character Kazaam, a 5,000-year-old genie who appears from a magic boombox to grant a boy three wishes. The film was released on July 17, 1996 and was both a critical disaster and a box office bomb, barely grossing $19 million on its $20 million budget.


The film begins with a very big wrecking ball destroying an abandoned building. The impact knocks over a magic lamp inside of the building, causing it to land on a boombox. The genie inside decides to make residence inside the boombox from there on in.

Meanwhile, a schoolboy named Max (Francis Capra) goes to school. He greets his friend, Jake (portrayed by Jake Glaser, director Paul Michael Glaser's son), with a goofy face and is chastised by his teacher. Max is confronted by a gang of bullies, who hold him on the bathroom floor and spray paint his outline. The bullies chase Max through Brooklyn. Max is chased into the abandoned building, where he discovers the boombox and accidentally unleashes the genie inside. The genie, who introduces himself as Kazaam (Shaquille O'Neal), tells Max that he is now Max's genie and proves it to him by demonstrating his powers, which results in Kazaam disappearing off the face of the earth.

Max returns home to find that his mother is marrying a fireman named Travis. It is revealed that his mother lied to him about his real father's whereabouts, and that he is actually located in the city. Max set out to search for his father in the hopes of rekindling some sort of bond between them. He suddenly encounters Kazaam during his travels, who pesters Max into making a wish. Max eventually finds his father, only to learn that he is a musical talent agent who specializes in pirated music.

Max goes to his personal secret hideout and tells Kazaam about his father. They decide to have a bike race through Max's hideout, during which Kazaam shows off his powers. Kazaam finally convinces Max to make his first wish, which consists of junk food raining from the sky. While eating all of this, Max suddenly realizes that he owns Kazaam until he makes his last two wishes. Max and Kazaam go out to see Max's father again.

After getting past an intimidating bodyguard, Max is introduced by his father to the other employees of the agency and invited to a nightclub. The owner of the nightclub, Malik (Marshall Manesh), shows interest in Kazaam upon the realization that he is a genie, and he hopes to control Kazaam through Max's father. The next day, Kazaam stays in Max's home and passes himself off as Max's tutor.

Max confesses to Kazaam that he and his father aren't really connecting, though Kazaam attempts to shirk the issue with some rapping. Max attempts to wish for his father and mother to fall back in love, but Kazaam cannot grant this wish because he is not a djinn, and therefore not free to grant ethereal wishes.

Later that day, Max witnesses his father being assaulted by Malik and his minions and goes to Kazaam for help. Kazaam just received a record deal as a professional rapper and is unable to help Max out. Max is kidnapped by Malik and takes possession of Kazaam's boombox. After pushing Max down an elevator shaft, Malik summons Kazaam in the hopes that he will do his bidding. While Kazaam is initially powerless against his master, he soon breaks free from his oppression and defeats Malik and his minions.

Kazaam transforms Malik into a basketball and then slam dunks him into a garbage disposal. However, he then finds Max's lifeless body, and wishes that he could have granted Max's wish to give his father a second chance at life. Then, in his sorrow, Kazaam finally becomes a djinn, and is therefore able to do this for Max. With him officially a djinn, he pulls Max out of harm's way and carried out of the burning building by Travis. Max's father then shows up and tells him that he hopes to rekindle the bonding with his son, before he takes off with authorities. Kazaam is then last seen walking off being grilled by his girlfriend because he doesn't have a job, while at the same time, ecstatic over his newfound freedom.



Main article: Kazaam (soundtrack)

The soundtrack includes a rap song sung by Shaquille O'Neal in the movie, titled "We Genie". It also includes music by Boys II Men, The Backstreet Boys, and DJ Spinderella.


Kazaam received extremely negative reviews from film critics and currently holds a 6% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 33 reviews,[2] and a 24 out of 100 on Metacritic. For example, critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars, writing: "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. [...] the filmmakers didn't care to extend themselves beyond the obvious commercial possibilities of their first dim idea."[3]

Shaquille O'Neal's performance in the film was considered poor and has since been referenced in a number of movies,[4] mainly either criticizing his acting or gloating about it. The film itself was a box office disappointment, making $18.9 million against a $20 million production budget. O'Neal, however, has not expressed regret for making the film. In a 2012 interview with GQ magazine he said, "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."[5]

Paul Michael Glaser has not directed another film since due to negative reviews on his directing.

Relevance in popular culture[edit]

Although considered to be a critical and financial failure, Kazaam has gained attention since its release for its absurd concept and Shaquille O'Neal's performance.

In the sixth episode of the fourth season of NBC television series Parks and Recreation, the character Andy Dwyer states that he would "like to remake the movie Kazaam with Shaquille O'Neal where he plays a genie, and I'd like to get it right." It is also referenced in The Cleveland Show episode "A Short Story and a Tall Tale" (2011), in an episode of Chelsea Lately (2013) and during a skit on The Chris Rock Show (1997)

In a 2002 episode of Saturday Night Live, host John McCain portrayed United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, who declared the "Middle Eastern-flavored movie titled Kazaam" to be a terrorist training video and was enough grounds to have Shaquille O'Neal arrested.

The film is also referenced in the 2000 spoof film Scary Movie. When Carmen Electra's character is asked by the killer via telephone what her favorite scary movie is, she replies with this film. When told that the film is not a horror movie, she replies, "Yeah, well, you've never seen Shaq act."

See also[edit]


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