Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – Shazaam

It’s real! It’s all real!

Summary: Childhood is always hard, but moving around all the time? Yikes. Such is the life of Bill (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Maddie (Ashley Tisdale), whose mother Leah (Sally Field) has a job that sends her all over the country. When they move into an old house in Roanoke County, the kids play in the attic and find a strange lamp that releases the mystical genie Shazaam (Sinbad). Suddenly the kids have a wealth of possibilities in front of them, so long as they can fit it into three wishes each. Now they can make the most of their new home. Unfortunately, trouble is brewing because Shazaam’s release tips off his old master Circe (Courtney Cox), an immortal sorceress who learned the secret to infinite wishes and wants to rule the world. It falls to the kids to save their new friends and learn about the importance of family all before they have to move again.

Review: Shazaam is… wow. Just wow. If all the greatest filmmakers of today put their heads together and sunk the world’s GDP into its budget, they couldn’t make a movie nearly as 90s as this movie. Sure, I was surprised to find a VHS copy of this fabled classic (and even more surprised to find a device that would run it), but it still didn’t prepare me for just how baffling it is. It’s no wonder people remember it, but it’s also not a surprise that it’s been lost to time.

So yeah, as you might have guessed, this movie is one giant family movie cliche, but with a genie twist. You’ve got the one working parent whose biggest crime is that… they work, the quirky montages, the fight and split-up that starts the third act, the tearful lessons learned, all that jazz. Add the totally tubularness and radicalness of the 90s and you have the most generic film ever made, right? Wrong! There are some decisions made in this film that either came from a misunderstood genius or a complete lunatic. For instance, Maddie uses one of the wishes to “get Mom a man that will make her happy.” The result of the wish is… a male prostitute. I am not even kidding. Like, they dress it up in possibly more kid-friendly terms, but it’s straight up a male prostitute. Like… this is a kid’s movie???

There are other things that are just weird in hindsight that couldn’t have been intentional. There’s one kinda freaky moment that predicts the Trump Presidency and the rise of Kanye West (those aren’t the names used, but some of the details are spot on). Other times, it’s certain stars before they were huge, like Jessica Alba as the babysitter who spends most of the movie tied up because of a wish (par for the course for Jessica Alba) and a really young Mahershala Ali as, no joke, a DJ who’s trying to sell hackey-sacks with caricatures of celebrities as dogs printed on them. But the weirdest moment has to be where Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro walk into a scene, see Shazaam laying down some genie craziness, and walk right back out again. It’s so bizarre and out of nowhere that I’m wondering if they weren’t filming Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on the same lot and the two just walked through the wrong door, but the filmmakers decided to keep it.

But the big surprise came from our main villain, Circe, mostly because she spends most of the movie with the minimal amount of clothing. I’m all for cheesecake in my movies now and then, but wow, this felt excessive in the kid’s movie. I swear, I’m thinking the only reason they had the climax at a swimming pool was so they could have her fight in a bikini. It certainly wasn’t because they had the budget for that sea serpent fight because good lord, I don’t think I’ve seen anything so cheap. The kraken from the original Clash of the Titans looked more realistic than that. I swear, the only reason you can’t see the strings on it is because of the VHS film quality and the boat Shazaam summons to fight it isn’t any better. It could not have been a more obvious green screen if they had forgotten to put in the background.

With all that said, I find that this bizarre flick has found a place in my heart. Like it’s so… 90s! It’s like what Monster Squad was for the 80s, but for a different decade — full of cheese, peppered with odd and borderline inappropriate decisions, and loads more stuff that you can’t tell if you’re laughing at or with. There’s a gumball machine with a Barry White voice (James Earl Jones)! What more can you say?! I’d say that you need to check it out, but that’s pretty impossible considering that every copy and trace of the movie seems to have disappeared off the planet. Still, if you can track down a copy, you’re in for a treat. A very weird-tasting treat.

Fun Tidbit: Y’all are a bunch of April Fools, that’s the fun part.

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