A 9-year-old kid in an adult superhero body? Thats about as entertaining as it gets.
A 9-year-old kid in an adult superhero body? That's about as entertaining as Shazam! gets. WARNER BROS.

You like your nephew! Let’s call him Dewie. He’s 9 years old, absolutely adorable, and as boring as a bar of Ivory soap. Dewie is genial, mostly polite, and doesn’t really have any rough edges—except for the occasional comedic burp, which comes off as planned adorableness. And that’s pretty much the vibe of Shazam!, which, like Aquaman, is practically begging to be known as “the fun one” in DC’s line of grumpy, mostly unenjoyable superhero flicks.

Based on the old-timey Captain Marvel comics (no, not that Captain Marvel), Shazam! tells the story of orphaned Billy Batson who stumbles into a wizard’s cave and is given god-like powers (and a buff adult’s body) to become the world’s super-charged champion against the seven deadly sins. Billy yells the name “Shazam,” lightning pops out of the sky, and bam—the transformation is complete.

This modern version of Billy (played by Disney tween-show dreamboat Asher Angel) is a cute foster kid befriended by fellow cute foster kid Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) who’s psyched that his pal can turn into the mighty Captain… errrr, well, they avoid calling him Captain Marvel for obvious reasons, so the writers have devised a series of joke-names which includes “Captain Sparklefingers.” (Cute! Cute? Cute.) While the Captain (an entirely acceptable Zachary Levi) is given a villain with a convoluted backstory to battle, most of the film’s fun is derived from the Freaky Friday setup of a child’s brain being in an adult—in this case a super adult’s—body.

And the result? Okay… it’s cute. And if you’re 9 years old, you’ll think it’s pretty good. There’s not a lot here to appreciate if you’re an adult, and you’ll watch it while fondly remembering Spider-Man: Homecoming which abso-freaking-lutely nailed the comedy and pathos of growing up as a super-heroic teen. Then you’ll suddenly realize that what you’re watching definitely ain’t that. So take the kids to Shazam!, and once you’ve reached your fill of “cute,” sneak out your earbuds and listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to catch up on.