Lakers Movie Review: KAZAAM starring Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq and Kazaam
Image courtesy of

The Los Angeles Lakers’ season has been suspended because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, so all Lakers fans have plenty of time on their hands that would normally be devoted to watching the games as well as all other things that they do outside of their homes. To help, we’re going to watch some movies that have involved the Lakers in some sort of way. After that, I’ll review them on the site so we can review everything that happened. First up, we have the 1996 film KAZAAM, starring none other than Shaquille O’Neal (this review contains SPOILERS). 

As a 26-year old, I feel like I was barely born in time to know about the polarizing film career of one of the best Lakers of all-time, Shaquille O’Neal. According to, Shaq has been credited with 44 movie and tv appearances since 1994. You’d be damned to find an NBA player in the history of the Association who has been in more movies and tv-shows, as Shaq knew early on in his career that he wanted to be an entertainer off and on the court. Now, does that mean his movie appearances are going to be in good movies? Not necessarily.

Shaq was able to be the main star in two movies before he even won his first championship in 2000. The second of those two movies was a movie called STEEL which debuted in 1997 (movie review on STEEL coming soon). That movie has a very poor 12% rating on the famous movie rating website, Rotten Tomatoes. The movie I’m reviewing here, 1996’s KAZAAM, has an even worse rating on Rotten Tomatoes coming in at 6%.

I decided to watch the movie for the second time in my life this week (first time was when I was very young). I bet you’re hoping that I can tell you that Rotten Tomatoes is wrong, and that KAZAAM is actually a hilarious and fun cinematic masterpiece. Well…I can’t. It’s pretty damn bad. I think a six out of 100 is a little harsh for this movie that’s pretty obviously made for kids, but I don’t think I can give it much more than that with my (extremely scientific and not arbitrary) rating of 20/100. If you don’t know, KAZAAM is about a young boy dealing with an absent father, a possible new step-dad, as well as some school bullies. While being chased by the bullies, the young boy (Max) accidentally sets a genie named Kazaam (played by Shaq) free from a lamp, excuse me, a boom-box. Max is told that he is allowed three (material) wishes from Kazaam, resulting in Kazaam being able to go back in his boom-box to rest.

I’ll wrap this all up with some positives for the movie, but let’s start with the negatives. There are plenty.

There are certain scenes in the movie that are just so mind-numbingly uncomfortable for such a long period of time that you can’t help but have only those scenes stuck in your brain after watching. The first of which that comes to my mind is this scene in a club, where the women performing decide to call out Shaq because of, you guessed it, his size.

Shaq’s character rhymes — well — raps for most of the movie, not stopping when presented the opportunity to do it in front of a large crowd of people. Watch the video below, which includes Shaq’s magic boom-box that makes the club owner very excited.

“If you girls are hungry, I’ll green, eggs, and ham it”


There are also some pretty weird scenes in the movie, weird scenes that you’d rightfully expect in a movie that is centered around the relationship between a junior-high kid and a fully grown genie man. One of those scenes is the below, when Max says Kazaam smells, resulting in Kazaam taking a magical, impromptu shower. Although it’s pretty peculiar, I will say the little towel/ear trick at the end made me laugh (because I’m an idiot).

You thought there weren’t any other awkward rap scenes? Think again! This time Kazaam is joined by Max as they do a duet rap about Kazaam’s beginnings because who cares anymore.

Also, I found a video clip (SPOILER ALERT I guess) of the ending which comes out of nowhere with its “Djinn” nonsense. This all happens after Max dies. No really…he dies.

All of these movie clips are to show just how ridiculous the movie is. I can’t really talk about it critically as I would with most movies I watch. Since most movies I watch are:

  1. Not movies made specifically for children and
  2. Good

I promised that I’d say some nice things about the film. Here we go.

At the end of the day, this movie avoids being arguably one of the worst movies of all-time by riding on the large back of Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq has always had an abundance of charisma in his playing days as well as in his current life as a TV personality and a DJ, and it shows in this movie. Any scenes not involving Shaq absolutely fall short, with scenes involving Shaq (except for the rapping ones) exuding heart and humor. I chuckled many times throughout the movie at the banter between him and Max, as Shaq played the part of a 3,000 year-old genie who doesn’t know what’s going on very well.

The movie had some other things going for it other than its great star, including some visual effects. I fully intended to be disappointed by all of the visual effects of this live-action, 1996 kids movie, but they did have some moments that made me think it may have been an early/late 2000s movie. Believe it or not, that is a compliment.

Also, you will more than likely not recognize anyone in this movie aside from Shaq. There is one actor, though, that I noticed right away and is one that I believe many people in my generation will recognize.

Image courtesy of USA Today

Yes, that’s right. Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite is in the movie. Efren Ramirez is the actor’s name, and he plays one of the 6-7 school bullies that torment Max throughout the movie. He has maybe one line in the entire movie, which, if my memory serves me correctly, includes him saying the word “cajones”.

That wraps up all of the positive things I had to say about the movie! Shaq and Pedro. Below you’ll see a video montage of Shaq talking about KAZAAM, as he seemingly acknowledges that it’s not a good movie, but that it’s definitely for kids either way so adults (like me) shouldn’t be surprised when they hate it. Either way, we must respect our king’s desire to be in a movie, even if it’s just to say he did or if it’s to secure the bag.

To end, here are some quick and funny things I noticed from the movie:

  • Max asks his mom “Who put a squirrel in your shorts?”. That is…something
  • Shaq’s accent at times was offensive
  • Shaq says “hold your camels” at one point, instead of the classic phrase “hold your horses”. That one made me laugh.
  • Shaq seems to be an ancient being, but he knows who Muhammad Ali is. Hmmmm…
  • In his joint rap with Max, Shaq acknowledges that he did the destruction of Pompeii which, according to my calculations, would be an admission of MURDER.
  • Max is the most invincible child in the world. For one, he dies in the end. That one can be explained by the fact that Shaq brings him back to life. What can’t be explained is when Max falls through three different floors of an abandoned building and isn’t hurt at all. They explain this with a pile of crumpled up newspapers that he falls on. I’m sorry, but that child would be severely hurt even with newspapers, if not dead.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more movie reviews.

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