HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Now Showing Today's Date:

Fat Albert

With Fat Albert, Bill Cosby has achieved something we may not have known could be done. Somehow, he has taken a postmodern approach to one of his most beloved creations and stripped it of irony. Fat Albert (Kenan Thompson) freely admits that he exists solely to solve people's problems, just as he does in every half-hour episode of his television show. He and "the Cosby Kids" are also fully aware that they live in an animated world. Yet somehow they all manage to refrain from winking at us, presenting themselves in all earnestness to a troubled girl in the real world.

You might miss the winking, though, if you're over twelve years old. Fat Albert has little more depth than the original animated series, and as a family film, it's clearly not one with enough quirk to catch the older members of the family. Dropping Aaron Carter into the mix is not a way to catch the teen-agers, guys - especially when he serves no purpose other than to copy the style of Cosby Kid Rudy (Shedrack Anderson III).

Director Joel Zwick (clearly following Cosby's orders) does set the gang up against modern conventions and fairly deftly keeps their reactions from seeming like a cranky old man's. At first hip-hop music horrifies them, but Albert gets into the groove of it; if Mushmouth (Jermaine Williams) and Old Weird Harold (Aaron Frazier) find some lyrics shocking, well, they're not necessarily alone on that one.

Modern technology baffles them, but Zwick doesn't dwell on it too long, instead pointing out the simpler pleasures that these refugees from the seventies have in common with modern teens. Though malls are overwhelming, they still find a jump-rope demonstration - what was once just a kids' game is now an expensive exercise program with video training. Of course Fat Albert can jump rope better than the "professionals," and despite it's obviousness, it's an exuberant moment. If only Zwick had resisted the urge for a fashion show montage.

The plot involves Fat Albert responding to the tears of a lonely girl, Doris Robertson (Kyla Pratt). Somehow they affect her remote control, allowing Albert to leave TV Land (literally) and jump into our world with gang in tow. They can only return when their television show is normally broadcast, thus giving them twenty-four hours to solve her problem, or they'll fade away into celluloid dust. (Apparently, it wouldn't be enough to rent a DVD - or a "divid," as Rudy calls it.)

Through his creations, Cosby has always yearned for a simpler time and argued for simple decency toward one another. The actors bringing them to life take that message to heart. Trapped in a ridiculous fat suit, SNL's Thompson still has surprising sincerity as a cartoon character trapped between his scripted goals and a desire to be a little more real for just one day.

Oddly, it's the film's "villain" Reggie (Omari Grandberry) that comes off the most cartoonish, and he's supposed to be living in the real world. All the other actors playing The Cosby Kids get moments of revelation that they wisely underplay rather than let Cosby's script hammer us over
the head. It's funnier and far more thought-provoking that Dumb Donald (Marques Houston) gets more excited about having a face than the fact that he can suddenly read in the real world - he takes it for granted that with that power, you use it, and has spent several hours in the library reading African-American History.

Cosby's script turns mawkish at the end in a way that his animated series never did. But he's got a dual purpose with this film. He's not just reviving a franchise, but trying to revive its real origins as his childhood memories. While a worthy goal, he lays it on too thick. Trying to show us "the truth" creates the film's most false moment.

Still, Fat Albert proved a surprise. Just like the theme song promises, you're gonna have a good time, and your kids, at least, might learn a thing or two.


Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites