Fat Albert: Good Nostalgia or a Crappy Movie?

How well does this film pay homage to the well-loved Cosby cartoon? The answer may disappoint you.

How well does this film pay homage to the well-loved Cosby cartoon? The answer may disappoint you.

FAT ALBERT (2003)

Hey-hey-hey…this movie’s not that great.

SUMMARY

Fat Albert was originally a 70s cartoon produced by well-loved comedian/actor Bill Cosby, based on the misadventures of his childhood friends. There were usually life lessons for kids, and Cosby himself would ‘host’ each episode to relay the messages. The movie deals with the 70s characters coming out of the TV from their show and into the home of Doris (Kyla Pratt), a girl who keeps to herself and seems to have no friends. While the gang tries to help her, they come across many things in the modern world that challenge them, what they know, and who they are.

WHAT WORKS

  1. Kyla Pratt – I enjoy her as an actress, and I think she did a decent job here. Nothing highly memorable, but she did a fine job as the lead.

    "We are here...because Doris has a problem!"

    “We are here…because Doris has a problem!”

  2. Keith Robinson – He did a nice job as the straight man Bill. I still felt like it wasn’t as true to Bill in the show, but it was the closest to the show as I was gonna get. So glad he started getting mostly better roles after this. Mostly. (He tried so hard in 35 & Ticking…blast you, BET.)

  3. Bucky – He’s also nothing like the character on the show…but this is the only change that I like, because on the show, Bucky didn’t really have a character. In the movie, the few shots he gets in are actually pretty funny! I don’t know why, but his change of character works for me. Not too over the top.

    "Never you mind...just no lookin."

    “Never you mind…just no lookin.”

  4. Bill Cosby – By far the best two scenes of the movie are at his house, and of course, the end of the movie that puts the origination of Fat Albert in perspective – where we see him & his friends at Albert Robertson’s grave. Such a touching moment, and it reminds us of how much more touching this movie could have been.

    "My boy, how did you end up in this predicament?"

    “My boy, how did you end up in this predicament?”

  5. Chemistry – I give the group of Fat Albert & friends credit for having a good chemistry on set. They were all having a good time with each other, which was how it should be in spirit of Fat Albert & the Cosby kids.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

The worst problems are based on not being parallel to the show. That doesn’t sound fair for the concept of it being able to stand as a film on its’ own; but when you go out of your way to incorporate the ideas of the show so much and then don’t meet them, it’s not unfair at all for the comparisons to be made. Therefore…

  1. Fat Albert’s Motives – in the cartoon, Fat Albert never specifically sought out to solve people’s problems. Heck, sometimes he had his own problems in an episode. He just happened to be the good guy trying to help his friends because it was right & he was a friendly dude. But I feel like they really played up this one identifier of his character and made it all he was about, which would have made him entirely one-note if he hadn’t fallen for Doris’ sister.

  2. Going to the Real World – Nope, I never bought it. The way it’s handled + the reason it happens just doesn’t make sense, even with suspended belief. First of all…the Pikachu tear. Really?! I thought we left those in bad 90s animation films. Second, I subjectively don’t know how much I like the 4th-wall being broken in such a modern way for a 70s show. Third, this movie offers nothing that new for movies where older cartoons go into the real world (which Hollywood kept thinking was a good idea around this time for some reason) except for the whole fading away concept…which is pretty dumb.

    "I heard her crying!"

    “I heard her crying!”

  3. Mushmouth & Weird Harold – may as well talk about them together since the movie pairs them for NO reason. In the show, Mushmouth (voiced originally by Cosby) never needed to be translated. We just figured out what he was saying because of how Cosby said the lines in a low voice with ‘-be’ at the end of every word. Having Weird Harold translate everything got annoying quick. He doesn’t use the same don’t of voice either, he sounds like someone on Dexter’s Laboratory. They also make Weird Harold clumsy & awkward, just to parallel him as a possible basketball player. Okay. Pretty much changed another character from the show, but…you get the idea. This isn’t the show. Next.

  4. Russell – I can NOT get over the fact that they didn’t even try to make Russell act or sound like the original character from the cartoon in any way. The voice acting (Jordan from Bernie Mac Show & the Brother Bear movies??? Okay…) He acts like a normal, annoying little brother (all this actor is remembered for) instead of wisecracking Russell from the show. And they don’t even let him come on the adventure! They just leave him in the junkyard because they couldn’t find a young actor good enough or who’d be willing to wear all those winter clothes the entire movie. Russell was more than just a throwaway sibling character – he was Cosby’s beloved younger brother who meant a lot to him. He was also one of the funniest in the group on the show. I wish more would have been done with him than just the meaningless backplot in the junkyard.

  5. Reggie – As a character, and if you think about how obsessed he gets with Doris & Fat Albert, the concept it existing funnier than the original intent of its’ humor. In other words, I’m laughing at him for the wrong reasons. Who acts like this? The short answer = black people in bad mid-2000s movies. But it’s Omarion, what did you expect?

    "Nobody makes a fool out of Reggie...except for Reggie!"

    “Nobody makes a fool out of Reggie…except for Reggie!”

  6. Effects – Yeah, that race between Fat Albert & Reggie looks totally real. That green screen isn’t obvious at ALL. Good job suspending my belief, movie.

  7. A few small pointless things:

    1. The Mall – they act like malls didn’t exists in N. Philly in the 70s. THEY DID. They weren’t quite like they are now, but they did exist.

    2. I don’t know any store clerks like the one Fat Albert meets at the mall who just up and try to get your clothes off to try something on.

    3. Fat Albert skateboard scene – it’s pretty silly. I guess the movie was anxious to get itself back to the cartoon as fast as possible.

  8. Junkyard Backplot – Do I even need talk about how dumb this is? Why is this a big deal? Is this a little kid movie now?

  9. Laurie – basically a cardboard cutout. Nothing interesting about her. Didn’t need to be here, except to have me play the ‘what actresses weren’t available’ game. Next.

  10. The Fat Albert Remix – ………………….I really want to know who pitched this idea, thinking it would be coherent. Not just fun…coherent. All I’m going to say.

    "Hey yo!"

    “Hey yo!”

  11. The School – Are they in HS or college? Everyone’s certainly acting like they’re in high school, but they can come and go to these classes during the day as if they’re in college classes. It’s never made clear. Oh well, at least if it’s a HS, the two adults we see are better than the ones in Love Don’t Cost a Thing. (Still mad at this piece of junk movie.)

WHAT’S ‘EH’

  1. Kenan as Fat Albert – As everyone could gather from watching enough Nickelodeon, Kenan is playing this role because he was often imitating Bill Cosby in his child star days. There are plenty of moments when you’re taken out of the moment, not watching Fat Albert but Kenan Thompson. He wasn’t amazing at it, but it was funny enough and had some touching moments, and the way he plays it in that regard leads you to wonder who else really would have signed on to do this. This was in between his life as a 90s child actor with Nickelodeon and around the start of his adult movie/SNL career. So I don’t think this is by any means the highlight of his career.

CONCLUSION

I wanted to like this movie, but it really could have been better. I didn’t talk about every character’s change from the cartoon, but literally every character from the gang was different in almost an upsetting way. If you’re going to make a movie based on any TV show, book, video game, someone’s life,  or anything like this, it’s important to utilize the source material. This movie seems as though it was written by two different people – Cosby came up with a heartwarming concept culminating in the final scene, and someone else threw in the ridiculousness that took up much of the 80% of the film. The morals are good when we finally get to them, and the actors seem like they’re having fun, but the story is just plain clumsy and silly, even for a Fat Albert story. It just suffers from the same lackluster quality that most black-casted films suffered from in the mid-2000s. It’s too bad this wasn’t made in a time period that wouldn’t have dated it so much, because most would want it to be good based on nostalgia.

BLACKOMETER: 4/10

Let me know what you think! If you need me, I’ll be playing buck-buck.

-BB2

"And then...we playin' buck-buck. All my guys against YOU. And then the junkyard will be ours! Ours! Ours... *pointless echo*"

“And then…we playin’ buck-buck. All my guys against YOU. And then the junkyard will be ours! Ours! Ours… *pointless echo*”

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Fat Albert: Good Nostalgia or a Crappy Movie?

  1. You are the MOST thorough movie reviewer I have ever met. Attention to detail, Do you take requests? And I agree that Cosby would be the best part of this movie. And I hated the junkyard subplot. Really absurd!

    • Well thank you for the compliment! I don’t know if I’m that good at it yet having just started, but I definitely enjoy it.
      Of course I take requests! You’d be the first…I opened requests up on my movie page, but the comments lie empty so far. Sad. Lol.
      And yeah, I didn’t write much about the junkyard subplot because it’s so dumb. I really wanted to like this movie when it came out…but at least Bill Cosby was there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s