As the title genie, Shaquille O’Neal looks great in his silky ornate Arab-kitsch outfits, and he makes a terrific entrance, emerging from a boom box in a small tornado. And then? Then, not very much. O’Neal’s Kazaam is a 3,000-year-old wish giver who becomes the servant of Max (Francis Capra), one of those gawky preteen mopheads who looks like a girl. It takes the movie all of 15 minutes to descend into sub-Spielbergian banalities about poor Max’s search for his absentee dad. In addition to grinning and scolding a lot, O’Neal, a genial (if lightweight) presence, also raps, beats up some thugs, and dispenses therapeutic homilies; he’s the genie as ultimate guidance counselor. The special effects have all the wonder of a ”magical” TV commercial, as candy bars fall from the sky and pieces of French toast go flying around the kitchen. There is also much tacky glittery-gold light. But Kazaam never brings off the trick we most want to see: It fails to make the jolly, 7-foot-1 Shaq larger than life. D+
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