From the director of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" comes the movie we've been waiting a life time to see! What? No one wanted a live-action, feature-length adaptation of the 1970's comedy show "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids?" My mistake.
Okay, here's the deal. "Fat Albert" is aimed at children. It's PG-rated, deals with Fat Albert's ability to solve every kind of social problem facing children, and stars a character who has the naughty "F" word no one wants to be in his name. That's fine - except the target audience doesn't know who Fat Albert is! The cartoon ran for 12 years, but it ended in 1984. I was born in 1982 and hardly know who he is; why should ten-year olds give a damn about a fat guy who says, "Hey! Hey! Hey!"
Nevertheless, despite the fact no one cares about the movie, it has been made, and director Joel Zwick has made the most out of a relatively dull screenplay. There's nothing special here, no classic jokes or memorable scenes - nothing that will be remembered in a year. Nonetheless, "Fat Albert" is so simply honest, lighthearted and family friendly, it works on a basic level. As far as kid's movies go, there have been better, but there have also been a lot worse; parents should consider giving this one a chance. If you're one of those parents who like to watch everything your child does, "Fat Albert" is more than tolerable.
Interestingly enough, the movie blends the cartoon and real-life actors into one story. Never mind the details as this concept has been done time and time again (but usually not successfully, if you force yourself to remember the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" movie), but basically the movie is about a sad, lonely teenager (who suspiciously is quite pretty and has a really hot older sister who un-stereotypically is nice to her) whose suffering somehow manages to draw Fat Albert and his pals out of the television and into the real world. While their innocence conflicts with the happenings of modern day Philadelphia at first, the kids are soon able to come to the rescue - even if it means risking their existence!
What makes the movie work is the perfect casting of Kenan Thompson; I really can't think of anyone else who could be the title character. The supporting cast isn't given much to work with, but some of the cartoon-turned-real people are pretty enjoyable, especially the kid who stutters. The girls, especially Doris (Kyla Pratt), are not very interesting, however; I never was able to feel for her predicament. As mentioned earlier, she's not a bad looking girl whose only problem seems to be that she is shy and likes to wallow in self pity. If she just flashed some cleavage or something, she wouldn't have a problem. Alternatively, for all of you women activists out there who were just offended by the last sentence, she could just smile once in a while and it would do the same trick.
This isn't a movie I'd ever think of watching again as it really doesn't have a whole lot to offer for my age group, but "Fat Albert" is, by far, one of the most harmless family movies I've seen in quite a while. It does offer up some laughs here and there, though the people behind the camera could have made a lot more out of the fish-out-of-water situation Fat Albert and his pals get themselves into. Oh, and the Bill Cosby cameo is completely wasted!
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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