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Fat Albert /

Rated: PG

Starring: Kenan Thompson, Dania Ramirez, Shedrack Anderson III, Aaron Frazier, Omari Grandberry

Directed by: Joel Zwick

Produced by: John Davis 
Written by:
Bill Cosby, Charles Kipps
20th Century Fox





“[Fat Albert] is a very thought-provoking movie.” —Dr. Phil

     Is it just me, or are parents really desperate nowadays to find a movie that will preoccupy their children for two hours? Recommending Fat Albert for families by saying that it is “thought-provoking” is extreme advice, even when it comes from a second-rate psychologist on daytime TV. This movie, a live-action spin-off of the once-popular Bill-Cosby-produced cartoon, is, to say the least, an extremely irritating piece of drivel. As much as it may entertain kids, should parents really be stepping to the low of letting their offspring enjoy watching a fat guy running around saying only sentences that rhyme with “Hey, Hey, Hey!” I’m pretty sure the only succeeding line he skips in the movie is: “I’m gay!”

     The plot represents one of the most ridiculous I have ever seen in a spin-off of a television show. When high-schooler Doris (Kyla Pratt) is not invited to a cool party and her foster sister Lauri (Dania Ramirez) is, she runs home for lunch and bursts out in tears as “Fat Albert”, the TV series, plays in the background. The cartoon characters on the show somehow see her weeping through the television screen, and their humongous leader, Fat Albert (Keenan Thompson), decides the gang needs to help her out. They hop out of the TV screen and decide that they will find Doris some real friends and try to get her invited to the party, in hopes of boosting her self-confidence.

     At first, the cast of “Fat Albert” comes across as a nagging burden to Doris, as they are not afraid of introducing themselves to popular kids and accidentally embarrass her quite a lot. She is determined to send them back through the television screen to where they came from, the fictional ‘80’s version of Northern Philly. However, as time moves on, she, unsurprisingly, begins to enjoy their company, slowly but surely. The “Fat Albert” characters cannot stay in reality, forever, though. Their clothes and skin fade more and more, day by day, and they all begin to turn invisible. Not to mention, back at their cartoon junkyard in TV Land, a gang of bad-boys have taken over the rights to star in re-runs of the television show.

     The movie sends a message to younger viewers that they should always be courteous and respectful to everyone. This is a good thing, but I’ve seen it done better in countless other movies of the same nature. I suppose Fat Albert is a more kind-hearted individual than some main characters in children’s movies, but I have a hard time believing his three-hundred pounds of happiness and morals will help any young viewer see the light of good-doing. I admit that, as a kid, I was influenced by many films—My Neighbor Totoro springs instantly to mind—but none of them were as silly or forgettable as Fat Albert. Why not take the little ones to see Finding Neverland, another live action movie that is far more imaginative and can also be enjoyed by adults, instead?

     To be fair, there is one scene in Fat Albert that I adored. Although it is probably the stupidest one in the entire movie, I admit that I laughed for probably two minutes straight, after seeing it. In the sequence, the bulky Fat Albert challenges a fit runner at Doris’ school to a race around the track. It is then that he proves that he is quite the athlete, seemingly gliding around the oval, barely picking up his feet and taking short strides, but moving at an impossible speed. It would be hard to do its profound inanity justice; I almost forgot about how terrible the actual movie was, as I watched it. Unfortunately, it’s about the only moment in Fat Albert’s entirety of 100 minutes that I found to be more playful and funny than idiotic and annoying, let alone “thought-provoking.” As time rolls on, the movie industry becomes less about ideas and more about copying. This is especially true in children’s films, and Fat Albert is exemplary of such.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (Posted in 12.28.2004-2.5.2005 Update)

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