The Thing Is... Shazam is
Superhero movies have become serious fare nowadays. There's usually world-ending stakes mixed with serious dramatics. In the midst of all that brooding gravitas, here comes Shazam which takes it all the way back to the core of it all; child-like wonder and pure wish-fulfillment of what it would be like for a kid to be a superhero.
"Coming of age" is a term that gets tossed around a lot. But in Shazam's case, it's literally a core part of the film. There's the literal age-up of it's main character Billy Batson, who goes from being fourteen to a full-blown muscle-man complete with flight, super-strength, speed and lighting bolts. And there's also the underlying story of finding family and home, which didn't get sacrificed in the midst of all the theatrics. By the end, it'll really endear you to the family at the heart of this film, which is in no small part, thanks to the wonderful cast. Billy and Freddy might be the starring characters, but keep an eye out for Darla; she really steals the show.
Shazam is hilariously funny in all the right moments. The humour isn't childish; it's clever and witty, and there are so many jokes and funny references flying around that you might need a couple of viewings to appreciate them all. The way it integrates the superhero mythos into its environment without being too heavy-handed on connectivity is just right. It's quite fun to spot all the easter-eggs and references to other superheroes.
Just on a personal note, any fans of The OC, will have a fantastic pay-off when they spot Adam Brody in the movie. Now that was pure wish-fulfillment for the kid in me!
I highly recommend watching Shazam with an audience, because there's real fun to be had in sharing the joy and laughter of it all. It's well-crafted, with a talented and charming cast, filled to the brim with action, story, heart and laughs a plenty. There are so many wonderful surprises throughout, and it sets up a really interesting future for the franchise. The thing is, Shazam makes being a superhero fun again!