Review by Gordon Justesen
Keenan Thompson, Kyla Pratt, Bill Cosby
Director: Joel Zwick
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: March 22, 2005
just said his head hurts."
With just about
every beloved cartoon personality to get their very own feature film, from Popeye
to Garfield, it was inevitable that Bill Cosby's classic creation of
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids would get its live action transformation
eventually. As it turns out, Fat Albert
is not as much a disaster as many cartoon character-based films are. In fact,
the first half of it is entertaining and quite hilarious.
With a screenplay
co-written by Cosby himself, the movie transforms Fat Albert and the gang to the
movie world in a most intriguing way. It starts off in the classic animated
setting of North Philly where Albert and the gang reside. Albert hears something
that sounds like a girl crying. It leads him and his friends to the real world,
which they come into by popping out of the TV set belonging to the girl watching
The girl is Doris (Kyla
Pratt), who is lonely and shy teenage girl and doesn't have any friends at
school. She watches "Fat Albert" reruns everyday on the TV Land channel. Fat
Albert (Keenan Thompson) acknowledges Doris' sadness and wants to help by
getting her some friends. By doing this, he and the gang will accompany her to
school and see that she gets them. Plus, they can't return to their TV world
until the following day when the next rerun airs.
Albert and his
cohorts; Rudy (Shedrack Anderson, III), Bill (Keith Robinson), Dumb Donald
(Marques Houston), Old Weird Harold (Aaron A. Frazier), Bucky (Alphonso McAuley)
and my all time favorite, Mushmouth (Jermaine Williams) are fishes out of water
and aren't familiar with the perks of the modern world. Their animated setting
is still in the 70s, which means they are less than lost when they see a soda
with its own can opener, a man talking on a wireless phone, or an ad for Fat
Albert on DVD, which the gang pronounces "de-ved".
The plot basis may
be somewhat thin, but Fat Albert does
have plenty of laughs along the way, mostly concerning the gang getting used to
the ways of the real world. It's a scenario that may have been played out one
too many times, but this time around it's a lot of fun. There's also a nice
level of charm here, something that seems absent from a lot of movies aimed at
kids these days, credit to Cosby for applying that element.
The high level of
knowingly silly jokes is what helps to elevate Fat Albert above the standard live action cartoon movies. Albert's
challenge to a track meet by the high school hothead is uproarious. The gang's
first time trip to a shopping mall is frequent with laughs. The big laugh capper
is the gang crashing a street party and providing a show-stopping musical
performance, complete with a solo by Mushmouth. In fact, any time Mushmouth
speaks gets a big laugh.
While its first
half is non stop fun, the last half of Fat
Albert feels a bit more forced and traditional. It's not that it's weak, but
it doesn't have the energy and entertainment value of its first half. That being
said, I think the movie is a good choice for kids who deserve to become familiar
with Fat Albert. Adults may even have a good time with the frequent silly jokes.
As a movie, the result is a mix, though I have plenty to admire about it.
A most terrific
visual presentation, courtesy of Fox, for this lively realized movie. The
anamorphic picture (full screen is also included) soars with every possible
video element, in terms of clarity, detail, and especially colors. Every shot in
the movie results in a fantastic treat for the eyes. Indeed, a fantastic looking
There's a lot going
on in Fat Albert, enough to make the
5.1 mix deliver the goods on a surprising level. Dialogue is delivered
perfectly, music playback is most outstanding (especially that street party
music number), and various physical pratfalls do the sound system right.
A moderate level of
extras on this disc, including a commentary from director Joel Zwick and
producer John Davis, extended scenes, a self-kidding featurette titled "Fat
Albert: Behind the Band", a trailer for this and Sandlot 2, as well as an inside look at the upcoming Ice