"You Gotta Have Friends"
What You Need To Know:
FAT ALBERT is a thoroughly delightful, funny, moral, clever, and intelligent movie that transcends its limitations. Both children and adults will enjoy the story and characters. Kenan Thomas as Fat Albert and the rest of his cartoon gang do a fine job of making a goofy concept seem real. Best of all, the script is a very media-wise script. It powerfully shows the effects that art and real life can have on one another.
(BBB, L, V, M) Very strong moral worldview about helping other people, being friendly and judging people by who they are on the inside rather than the outside; two light profanities; comic, slapstick violence includes boy lifts bully up by his shirt to warn him to be nice, teenage boy crashes into things while riding a skateboard and bullies threaten people; no sex, but teenagers go out on dates, have a birthday party, kiss in a chaste manner, and dance slow dance; no nudity, but boy rips the back of his pants, though nothing shown; no alcohol or smoking; and, strange reference made to cartoon character seeing girl’s “spirit,” and cartoon characters are able to enter the real world.
FAT ALBERT is based on the TV cartoon series created by actor and educator Dr. William H. “Bill” Cosby. It is a thoroughly delightful, funny, morally uplifting, clever, and intelligent movie that transcends the video limitations of its source material. It is perfect entertainment for the whole family this Christmas season, or any season.
The story opens with Doris Robertson, a lonely high school student who has no friends. Though she’s on the school track team, Doris feels unappreciated, especially compared to her popular foster sister, Lauri.
While watching the FAT ALBERT cartoon on TV, a tear runs down Doris’ cheek and lands on the TV remote. This magically opens some kind of tunnel between the real world and the cartoon world. As a result, Fat Albert suddenly can see Doris’ sad face in the sky. Good heart that he is, Albert decides he must help Doris with her problem. He pushes through the TV screen into her living room, pulling everyone except Bill’s little brother, Russell, into her world.
Now live action characters, Fat Albert and the gang try to solve Doris’ problem, but Doris is reluctant to let anyone into her life, especially a bunch of crazy, runaway cartoon characters. Slowly, Fat Albert breaks down her defenses, but things become more complicated when Fat Albert and his gang are themselves affected by the real world in unexpected ways. Fat Albert eventually decides he has to seek out his creator, Bill Cosby, to make everything work out all right.
FAT ALBERT is a very amusing and very clean family movie. Both children and adults will enjoy the story and characters, which are well defined and very appealing. Kenan Thomas as Fat Albert and the rest of his cartoon gang do a fine job of making a goofy concept seem real.
FAT ALBERT is not only an enjoyable family movie, it’s also a clever one. For example, the movie shows the impact that art can have on life and vice versa. Thus, Fat Albert and his gang literally jump through the TV set to affect the lives of Doris and her foster sister. This is a truth that MOVIEGUIDE®’s media-wise families have known for years, that the mass media of entertainment can have a strong impact, for good or ill, on children of all ages. This intelligent, media-wise theme comes powerfully to life in the movie’s final emotional shots, which will bring joyful tears to many media-wise moviegoers. Eventually, viewers are reminded that Bill Cosby based his characters on real-life people that he knows and loves. In other words, art imitates life, and life intimates art, and Dr. Cosby’s script brilliantly acknowledges and celebrates that fact.
FAT ALBERT contains one possible worldview problem. When Fat Albert goes to see Bill Cosby, Dr. Cosby mentions something about Albert being able to see Doris’ “spirit”. The line is a short throwaway line, however, so it was hard to tell at the time what kind of supernatural connection Dr. C was trying to make. It’s better, therefore, just to remind children that the story they are watching is just a fantasy, that there is no way, supernatural or otherwise, that cartoon characters can see or talk to anyone in the real world. Although cartoon characters are not real, they still can really have a big impact on your child’s world.
Surprisingly, FAT ALBERT is one of the most entertaining, most intelligent family movies of the year. It’s worth seeing more than once.