Kazaam

Movie review by
Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media
Kazaam Movie Poster Image
Bad fantasy comedy is dated and materialistic; bullying.
  • PG
  • 1996
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The impact of divorce and a parent remarrying is addressed. But this is handled with a rushed resolution and does not provide a lot of insight. Learning from your mistakes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Antisocial behavior and insults throughout. Max doesn't do his chores, lets down his mom, defies her by putting his feet on the table, and jokes about Kazaam supposedly being mentally unwell. Kazaam is also reluctant to help others, including Max, and briefly puts chasing fame above his responsibilities to others. Max's father is involved in criminal behavior such as bootlegging music. He treats Max poorly after the novelty of being reunited wears off. Max does have a few positive character traits, such as making, building, and fixing things out of household and discarded objects. But he also steals to anger a parent and impress his peers, who are a bad influence and bully him. Eventually Max, Kazaam, and Max's dad learn from their mistakes, as part of the movie's rushed conclusion.

Violence

Character is pinned to the floor, spray-painted, and chased by bullies. Verbal threats and scuffles. Baseball bat is swung at one character. Character is held by their head -- though not hurt -- and is also manhandled out of a building. Someone is held by their throat but not strangled. One character bites another to escape capture.

Sex

Flirting during a musical number. Hand holding. Character is seen shirtless.

Language

Insults include "dork," "loser," "turd," "your mother," "little fart," "pervert," and "punk." A female teacher is described as a "very angry man trapped in a woman's body." A "joke" about a character needing a "nice building with padded walls."

Consumerism

Character wishes for possessions rather than things that will bring them fulfillment. Product placement includes Pepsi, M&Ms, and other brands. Junk food rains from the sky to comic effect.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol in social situations such as parties and nightclubs. A parent scolds one character for offering some to a child.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kazaam is a fantasy comedy designed to be a family movie that tackles issues such as divorce and friendships, but is dated, mean, and inappropriate. Unlike most movies of its type, it fails to feature any particularly sympathetic characters. Max (Francis Capra) the 12-year-old protagonist is rude and un-cooperative with his mother. He is also mean and harsh toward Kazaam -- played by basketball star Shaquille O’Neal -- a genie who must grant Max three "material" wishes, and who himself displays shallow behavior. Max's father treats him poorly, initially welcoming him into his life but then frequently becoming annoyed and short-tempered with him. There is mild, intermittent violence, as Max is roughed up by bullies on a few occasions. One of the bullies also attacks Kazaam with a baseball bat, but inflicts no harm. Some of the language feels especially dated with Max referring to one teacher as a "very angry man trapped in a woman's body" and alleges Kazaam is mentally ill by recommending a "nice building with padded walls." Insults such as "dork," "little fart," "turd," and "loser" are also used. The movie also has some prominent product placement, most notably for Pepsi and M&Ms: these are tied to Max's initial, childish wishes. Characters drink alcohol on occasion, but not to excess, although in one scene a child is offered some before a parent intervenes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written bylasandlin October 9, 2020

Mild Language & Adult situations

Common Sense media failed to include the mild profanities in the film. I counted three uses of “hell” and one use of “damn,” and at least one “oh my God,” and... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old January 11, 2021

What's the story?

KAZAAM is an odd couple story that revolves around Max (Francis Capra) a friendless 12-year-old with a spiky personality, and Kazaam (Shaquille O’Neal) an ancient genie who Max awakens. Max must deal with the aftermath of his parents' divorce and a local gang of bullies, all while deciding what three wishes Kazaam should grant him.

Is it any good?

This is a comedy that isn't funny, an action movie with terrible set pieces, and a fantasy movie with plot holes you could ride a magic carpet through. Kazaam will likely leave you wishing three times over that you hadn't watched it. Decried at the time (1996) as a cynical cash-grab, it features O’Neal at the height of his basketball fame, demonstrating why a career in movies did not follow his retirement from the court.

Plot lines are picked up then discarded, while a clutch of 90s movie clichés -- a hip-hop club here, a BMX race there -- pad out a movie about two characters who can't decide what they want, are both boringly selfish, and bicker for no real reason. By the time things mercifully draw to a close, it's confirmation that the most interesting thing about Kazaam is the bizarre "false memory" it appears to have spawned about Shazaam (not to be confused with Shazam!) another genie movie that doesn't actually exist. Yes, trawling a heated online message board discussion is officially more entertaining than sitting through this.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how divorce is portrayed in Kazaam. How has his parents divorce impacted Max's relationship with them? Do you think the movie deals with the subject realistically? Movies to help kids understand divorce.

  • How does the movie portray bullying? How does Max behave toward the bullies? Have you ever encountered a situation like that?

  • A number of commercial brands feature heavily in the movie. Why do you think these featured in the story? What are your thoughts on product placement in movies? What is the impact of advertising on kids?

  • Did some of the language in the movie feel dated? Why is language important? Discuss how language and meaning can change over the years.

  • Shaquille O’Neal is better known as a basketball player than an actor. What other sports stars have you seen in movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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