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The reviews I've read for Fat Albert have been disheartening and for
the most part, non-reflective of this movie.
Too many critics cannot put aside their pretentiousness and evaluate this and other movies of the genre for what they are...children's entertainment.
From this standpoint, Fat Albert stands above most of what I have seen with my kids in recent years. Beside a wonderful dose of nostalgia for boomers, this is a movie packed with humor, solid entertainment, decency, and important lessons about life. To me, that's what children's entertainment is about.
And there were bonuses for adults as well...
I thought the cast suceeded in capturing what we loved about the cartoon characters. Dumb Donald, Mush Mouth, Fat Albert were all on target and delivered more to love in their human form.
I also appreciated the movie's ability to laugh at itself. I cracked up when The Cosby Kids were waiting outside the girl's apartment the morning after they met. They didn't need to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom...because hey hey hey, they're cartoon characters.
Lastly, the connection to the girl's grandfather Al was a lovely tie-in and the scene at the cemetery where the grown up Cosby gang paid tribute to their friend was sentimental without being sappy.
Can I pick apart small things about the movie? Absolutely! However, this movie provided my family and myself with such good feelings, smiles, and conversation afterwards that there is no need to bother.
Compare this with other kids movies that are chock full of scatological humor and impending sexuality and you will see that Fat Albert stands far and above.
This movie was funny, thoughtful, and brought back many a wonderful memory. Go see it.
I work with troubled teens and decided to invite a student over break to go to the movies with my 4 and 9 year old. He suggested "Fat Albert"--I am so glad he did! The film was absolutely wonderful in its innocence and charm. My teen liked it because of the "fantasy to reality" twist...as well as the cute girls and the great music. He also liked the idea of someone looking out for the "lonely" kid. My little kids thought the jokes were funny, the guys were funny, the music and dancing were"the bomb" and even the plot was even a little suspenseful for a little kid. I loved it because I grew up on the "Fat Albert" series and was just so happy to see and instantly remember all of my old pals. And the hilarious group scenes where the actions so fundamental to the cartoon were just ridiculous to the real life settings were so clever and delightfully funny--I was so pleased! If you're looking for an all-around, no crass or innuendo laden, truly sweet family film--this is the one!!
For the most part, when "family" and "movie" are right next to each other in the same sentence, my first instinct is to run as fast as I can the other way. But with a movie pass about to expire, and nothing else in the theater that piqued my interest (Christmas With the Kranks? NO THANK YOU!), I sat down in my seat with no expectations. I haven't seen the original TV series in years, but I've always been a big fan of Bill Cosby, and I was immediately put at ease when the credit "Written by Bill Cosby" came up. Bill's script keeps the spirit of the original characters intact, and incorporates them into the real world without an overkill of "Oh, wow! Things are so different now!" style of jokes. This movie is made for kids, not at kids. Things are kept simple without being condescending, and at no time will adults have to talk their way out of explaining something "adult" to the kiddies. In the end, while this movie won't win any technical or artistic awards, it's still a fun little movie that the whole family can enjoy, and for once, that's a good thing. B-plus.
Today I saw a free preview of "Fat Albert" in a Manhattan theater, and
braved the morning cold to make sure I got in. It was well worth it!
Let's face it, this movie could have been total crap, with what
Hollywood's record is with both remakes and TV-to-film adaptations. But
"Fat Albert" succeeds on so many levels, it's amazing a film this good
can even be made in 2004.
Before I hit on the positives, I will go over a few of the negatives. When the Fat Albert gang are in cartoon form, they seem to be drawn "nicer" as not to offend, and their voices are much different than what old-schoolers remember. Dumb Donald's voice is no longer the screechy highpitched type, Russel's voice is nothing like it was, and Mushmouth especially sounds different. Sure he is still Mushmouth but he sounds like someone making a very bad Mushmouth imitation.
But there are so many positives that make you forget any of that stuff. The film is a sweet tale of the gang coming out of a girl's TV set and into "real earth" to help her with her problems. The well-meaning gang gets into a lot of crazy and zany situations but always seem to win over the crowd, except for the bad guy, who likes the same girl Fat Albert likes. This girl, incidentally, is the half-sister of the girl the gang has come to help, and she is incredibly hot, a cross between Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry, always wearing sexy clothes and looking great but of course, she is a sweetheart.
There are some brief scenes of how the gang is amazed at modern technology (they do come from the 70's after all, although that decade is never directly mentioned) but thankfully the film doesn't waste time on many gags like that. The gang itself, well the actors do indeed do a decent imitation of the gang, having their looks, mannerisms and even their walks down to some degree. But above and beyond the field is the dude who plays Fat Albert, seemingly a perfect choice, a great performance where he's obviously having fun.
The film is a great family film and there are no silly "adult jokes" that will fly over the kid's heads, it's all good clean fun. probably the only thing "racy" at all is the hot girl Fat Albert has a thing for, she is always dressing sexy and looks amazing throughout the entire picture. The camera always seems to manage to catch her perfect body and tight, trim figure, and While she is there to keep dad watching and paying attention, everyone else will enjoy the film, although especially if dad watched Fat Albert 30 years ago, there's no reason why he can't enjoy it for what it is too.
The ending is a great heart-tugger and not the predictable ending you may have expected. The film does try to be a little bit "today" by making Fat Albert and the gang sing and dance to a hip-hop version of their theme song ("Gonna Have A Good Time") as they take over a hip-hop party, but even that is done so well you really won't mind.
This is an extremely enjoyable film with laughs galore. Probably the biggest laughs were when Fat Albert races the bad guy on the school track (a take on how fast he always managed to run in the cartoon), and every time Mushmouth says something. Yep, even in these extremely politically-correct times, a jam-packed theater can still crack up at a kid's speech impediment when given the chance. Well, it's Mushmouth, 30 years ago we all laughed, so why not now? My advice is to forget overblown crap like "The Polar Express" and take your kids to see this film, which will be loved by millions of kids and adults alike, no doubt.
Fat Albert is well enough intentioned... I do not think that the film makers set out to destroy one of the Saturday Morning Gods in such an atrocious manner. While this genre, like the more successful comic book genre, can be done somewhat successfully (i.e. Scooby Doo), there is a fine line to walk without making the characters look empty and embarrassing. Fat Albert unfortunately does this. It takes the two dimensionality of the original characters and focuses on it until they loose whatever vibrancy they had previously. The story is contrived and supremely predictable. Grandberry is his usual chewing-on-the-scenery self. Thompson is passable as Fat Albert, but should stay far far far away from rap music for the remainder of his days. The only really enjoyable scenes in the movie were the ones with Bill Cosby. All in all, this movie is a total floater. Don't look at it, just flush.
I really had a good time watching this movie. We all remember the 70's cartoon heroes named Fat Albert and the Cosby kids who came from the genius created mind of Bill Cosby. Each week Fat Albert and his gang would help people and solve problems. Now it's 2004 and Doris come home from school after having a bad day she turns on Fat Albert and begins to cry and Fat Albert the cartoon hears her cry and jumps out of cartoon land and into reality to help Doris with her problem and the Cosby kids follow him. But what they are going to discover is that their world and this world are completely different. Like Garfirld and Scooby Doo, another great cartoon character comes to life. It was a fascinating idea by Bill Cosby for the famous cartoon characters to jump into reality. I really enjoyed this movie, it was pure fun.
Is there an unwritten rule in Hollywood that if you choose to recreate
comedy, it has to be less funny than the original so that it doesn't
overpower the genuine moment of the first? I am a strong believer that
there is such a rule because I fully witnessed it in the film Fat
Albert. This film had so much potential that I really wanted to jump
into my television and start grabbing necks a-la Homer Simpson.
Frustration grew inside of me as jokes were tossed out towards the
viewing audience with such disappointment that to laugh would have
given the film way too much credit. The characters were flat, the story
was "normal chaos that has been done in nearly every other film", and
the class of the television program Fat Albert was diminished by cheap
thrills and over-budgeting. Did Bill Cosby have a true writing credit
to this film? It would be hard for me to believe that he seriously
considered this work great, but then again, he is older and has bills
so why not? While the ending tried to bring a tear to your
eye, I was already crying at the utter lack of appreciation that this
film carried and influenced the youth of our nation.
To say that this film was horrible would be too kind of a word, to quote a line from the film "(Fat Albert is) like school on Saturday: no class" would again, probably be giving it too much credit. From the opening credit sequence to the overly animated cartoons to the lack of animation in the characters when they became real was difficult to watch. Kenan Thompson tries really hard to empower the soul of Fat Albert, but what comes through the screen are just pathetic. He has no backbone and literally, he gives Albert this image of ignorance. Instead of being this helpful friend, Thompson's Albert has these huge glazed eyes that roll around whenever trouble begins. He just didn't seem to have that pizazz that I remember Albert having from the television programs. If Albert was a leader in the cartoon, he was not one in this film. Unless you count the fact that the other actors in this film followed his suit by also leaving their energy at home. Childish humor coupled with this sense of apathy really didn't spark this film onto the level it should have been. I kept seeing glances of this really humorous story about Fat Albert in the real world, but instead I was forced through yet another Cool World. That is how I would best describe this film, Cool World for children.
With our characters firmly not caring about their careers, we are then forced to focus on the non-existent story that apparently the writers of this film chose to not write. Instead of creating a plot with some climactic moments, our writers of this film chose to just let Fat Albert wander until something funny happened. I kept wondering to myself if this was an actual scripted film or just Thompson and Zwick allowing improv to occur anywhere and anytime. Now, if you were working with a genuine comic actor this could have worked (like Robin Williams or Will Ferrell), but with Thompson it just felt forced. Nearly every scene felt forced or overworked in this film. Spontaneity was not an element that these writers considered. This ultimately caused the jokes to be extremely flat. The humor just didn't bring the true life of Albert onto the screen. This is where I question the validity of Cosby being involved with this production. I know he was getting paid, but how much did he work? The jokes felt so old and used that I am surprised that children responded to them. Maybe it was the urban feel that Albert somehow felt comfortable in who knows? Either way, the loose story allowed for unfizzy jokes, which ultimately lead to the demise of this picture.
Finally, I would like to say that Fat Albert (when I was growing up) was an inspiration and "every man" to us all. The group that followed him and his actions somehow always felt like a part of us. There wasn't anything that could stop Fat Albert from helping another lost soul, and somehow in this film adaptation, none of these old feels could be remembered. It wasn't as if they were trying, but this was definitely not the same Fat Albert that I grew up with. He didn't reach me like he used to, and perhaps it was the larger budget or the lack of imagination, but Albert hurt the soul in this film. I am surprised that he was able to assist Doris in her problem (this obscure problem that was never quite defined), because if I were in her shoes, I would have politely kicked this Albert to the curb. Cosby needed to reconsider his options before allowing this Albert to see the light of day.
Overall, as if you couldn't tell already, this film hurt me. As I watched this dopey picture, I couldn't help but wonder if this film was focused correctly. When it first started I had this feeling that Albert would be called to help Doris with her problem, causing him to be a secondary character (like her own Jiminie Cricket), but instead what happened is that Thompson's camera excitement stole the performance away from Doris while creating a film centered around Albert. This should not have been the case for this to be a truly inspirational film. We lost the central focus of the film, and then the story just went fuzzy. Too many hands in the honey pot with one hand wanting to be on top. It was sad, and ultimately destroyed this film.
Grade: ** out of *****
What a disappointment this movie was ... one of the most original and
brightest cartoons of it's time deserved a lot more than this
poorly-written, unimaginative effort - the characters were more
two-dimensional than their original cartoon counterparts!
The acting was OK, it was the script that was the real disaster - where was Fat Albert to help out with *that* particular problem ?
the 'plight' of Doris and her sister barely raised enough concern in the audience to sustain a half-hour cartoon, let alone a feature film - with the long list of issues and concerns facing adolescents these days, the producers chose the softest possible interpretation of what Fat Albert was all about - kids sticking together and helping each out when problems arise - the 'problems' facing Doris were barely worth addressing - even the problems in the cartoon-within-the-movie ('Danielle' running away and leaving school) where more pressing ...
The whole 'cartoon's come to life' scenario was pretty lame - either do a full feature cartoon or make a movie about the characters as if they were real people - combining the cartoon world with the real world just didn't work in the hands of these writers - they could barely muster a single gag in what was supposedly a light-hearted comedy ffs ...
the characters were tampered with in a most displeasing way - Rudy was robbed of his original personality to be made more 'P.C.' - the makers of the original cartoon gave Rudy a cocky, smart-ass attitude to balance out the saccharine righteousness of Fat Albert and Bill Cosby - the gang didn't need anymore 'nice guys', and there could have been a lot of fun to be had with Rudy's character had he retained his original 'edge'. Russell's non-appearance in physical form was puzzling and uneccessary ... where the hell was Mudfoot ?!? ... only the tiniest reference was made to the Brown Hornet - surely something more imaginative could have been written with such an integral and fun character ?
Fat Albert the Movie was a by-the-numbers waste of celluloid and cellulite ...
Teenage Doris has a problem. No one wants to be her friend or invite her to their parties. As she is crying over the television's remote control, a tear drops into the device. As she happens to have a Fat Albert cartoon on the set, her sadness seeps onto the title character. Albert insists on jumping through the screen, along with his friends, to help her develop a more positive self image. While they are in the real world, the whole gang adapts to modern culture quickly. They never lose sight of their true goal, however. Will Fat Albert and his crew be able to better Doris' life? It is so satisfying to watch a film for teens and children that is determined to amuse and enlighten without objectionable material. Although the story is somewhat weak and a bit wandering, Albert and the actors playing the gang members are just wonderful, as is Doris and her lovely cousin, Laurie. Bill Cosby himself has a small part in the film, too. If you are a choosy parent, who screens every film before making a decision on a movie's worth, you will probably give thumbs up to this new entry into family features. It has an upbeat message that overcomes any weaknesses.
This movie was pretty much forced into being, and horribly so. I never
watched "Fat Albert" as a kid, but I surmised that I would watch the
movie based upon the cartoon's reputation. Had I known that Fat Albert
and the gang would lunge through the television from cartoon town to
real life, I wouldn't have even watched the opening credits.
It was a feel good story with a good message, but I it was terribly done. A lot of the scenes in the movie seemed as though they were for occupying space and time more than for aiding the plot. Fat Albert can do it all, and even though he's fat, he's super cool. That is about what I got out of the bulk of the movie.
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