Upon first inspection, Fat Albert is just the latest film to dust off an old TV show and nakedly capitalize on its status as a known commodity, regardless of whether there's a timeliness or public hunger for it. Many things about Fat Albert can be dismissed on this superficial level, and probably should be. But as it becomes clear that the film is a eulogy for Albert Robertson, Bill Cosby's childhood friend and source of inspiration for the character, it achieves more poignancy than your typical vanilla family comedy. Borrowing the basic fish-out-of-water structure from The Brady Bunch Movie, the film proceeds through a series of G-rated episodes in which the characters learn essential truths about themselves and spread good vibes. Fat Albert walks that fine line between embracing the old character stereotypes, quite backward by today's standards, and exploding them. Especially with the character of Mushmouth, who shrugs off his pre-Ebonics babble in favor of proper English, the film sends the message that cartoon characters are caricatures, while real people should never be subjected to the same prejudices. To call Fat Albert a "message movie" is obviously too generous, but to harp on its shortcomings would seem too particular. It's sweet, but it's not nearly hip enough to hold any value for fans of the original show. The actors, led by Kenan Thompson, don't stand out beyond looking remarkably like the real-world people they're playing, who make a guest appearance near the end. Having also directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Joel Zwick seems to be drawn to projects with the word "fat" in the title.
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Bill Cosby's gang of childhood pals evolve from standup comedy to an animated cartoon series to real life in this family-friendly comedy. Doris (Kyla Pratt) is a teenager who doesn't fit in with most of her classmates at school, has been depressed since the death of her grandfather, and is disturbed by her foster sister's willingness to remake herself in order to be popular. One of Doris' few solaces comes from watching reruns of the animated television series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and one day while watching the show she starts to cry, with a tear dropping into her remote. The tear draws big-hearted (and just plain big) Fat Albert (Kenan Thompson) from the animated universe into Doris' real world in hopes of cheering her up and helping her deal with her problems. As Fat Albert and his pals -- Rudy (Shedrack Anderson III), Bucky (Alphonso McAuley), Mushmouth (Jermaine Williams), Weird Harold (Aaron A. Frazier), Dumb Donald (Marques B. Houston), and Bill (Keith D. Robinson) -- adapt to the three-dimensional world and try to teach Doris to believe in herself, they learn that traveling back to the animated world is harder than they thought, which becomes alarming when they start to fade away. The real world also poses some new dilemmas for Fat Albert when he falls in love with Doris' foster sister, Lauri (Dania Ramirez). Bill Cosby co-authored the screenplay for Fat Albert, using his full name, William H. Cosby Jr., and collaborating with Charles Kipps; the project was begun with Forest Whitaker as director, who left midway through shooting, with Joel Zwick taking over in his place.
All Movie Guide
|Source:||20Th Century Fox|
|Presentation:||[Full Frame, Wide Screen]|