Forget "Rogue One." Forget the deluge of Oscar bait and happy Hollywood musicals piling into theaters at the same time in the hopes of scoring awards and spots on critics' countdown lists. Forget the Chris Pratt/Jennifer Lawrence unintentional romantic space Stockholm Syndrome thriller. No, the movie that captured the internet's attention this past Christmas was "Shazaam," a genie-themed kids comedy made in the '90s that became one of the hottest films during one of Hollywood's hottest movie seasons.
There was just one problem: "Shazaam" doesn't exist. Not in 2016. Not in the '90s. Not ever.
And yet, thanks to a large crowd of confused Redditors and this fascinating breakdown by Amelia Tait of The New Statesman, "Shazaam" became one of the most buzzed about movies at the end of 2016 – much to the surprise of comedian Sinbad, supposedly the film's leading man.
On the heels of that bizarre fake film conspiracy, the comedian will be making a very real stop in Milwaukee on Thursday, Feb. 9, to perform an actual set at the very tangible and unimagined Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Northern Lights Theater. Before then, however, we got a chance to chat with Sinbad about his upcoming show, several of the real films he made during his career and, of course, the one he most definitely didn't.
OnMilwaukee: When did you find out about this crazy, fake, false memory movie?
Sinbad: People had been talking about it for years, but I guess it just came to a boiling point in the last few months. And they are determined to find this movie that never existed.
Do you ever have moments where you yourself are like, "Did I make this movie? Is this something I just forgot?"
No, I know I didn’t make the movie. I’ll say, "Did I do anything that might be confused?" And then I remembered I hosted a Sinbad marathon one time, and I said, "Maybe that’s what they’re confusing it with." But they’re swearing that they saw this movie.
Then you’ve got the fake, photoshopped box sets. But this is the funny part about the box sets: Where’s your video tape at?! Everybody’s got these empty boxes. And if so many people saw this movie, why hasn’t anyone yet produced a video tape or a scene or something?
Why do you think people have this weird memory of a movie you never made?
I don’t know; it’s really strange. I couldn’t even begin to explain this one.
What was your first reaction to the news of it?
I thought it would just go away. But now, what’s happening is people don’t want to be wrong, so now everyone’s looking for something to hang onto the truth. I almost feel bad, like maybe I should do one so they can feel better about themselves.
Are you serious about making this movie?
Yeah, I might just have to do it – or we’re gonna lose some people.
Do you have any ideas for the Shazaam movie?
I wouldn’t do a genie movie, but I would do a Sinbad movie – a Sinbad the Sailor movie.
Is this whole situation making it into your show Thursday night?
A lot of times, I just let people in the audience bring stuff up, so if somebody in the audience brings it up, then I’ll talk about it.
What’s some of the odder stuff people have brought up over the years?
Oh man, there’s too many of them. (laughs) They’re all so random. It’s always crazy stuff.
Do you have anything special specifically planned out for this show?
I don’t plan anything out, man. I let it be what it be. Each show is different for me.
How do you figure out, the night of, what you’re going to perform?
You know what, I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s like an old jazz player. I just know all the notes, and I pick one that I like.
Now, on "Jingle All the Way" – an actual movie you made – what was the production like, and what was it like working with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
It was fun! We had a good time doing the movie. We got a chance to do a lot of improv, so it was fun.
A lot of those ’90s movies you starred in – "Jingle All the Way," "Good Burger" – weren’t critically well-regarded, but people still talk about them and watch them today. Why do you think they’ve stuck in people’s minds?
Well, I think – first of all – they were good movies. Sometimes, you just have to make a movie, and for whatever reason at that time, it just doesn’t catch, but it was still a good movie. It’s like music; sometimes an album doesn’t sell, and all of a sudden, it catches later. You can’t worry about things like that. You do your best, you put it out there and then you push on.
I think they made a sequel to "Jingle All the Way," correct?
Yeah man, that movie … it was, I guess, a straight-to-DVD, and it sucked so bad. It sucked SO bad. You gotta at least have some kind of a semblance to the original show. You can't throw a name on it … it’s like having a fake band using the real band’s name.
Did you get to take one of the Turbo Man dolls home with you after the shoot?
Yeah, I have one, but my nephew beat it up. I mean, nobody looked at it as if it was a collector’s item. At that time, it was just a Turbo Man. I guess they go for about $500 on Ebay now.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.