Ah, 20th Century Fox, you’ve been around for more than 80 years and more recently, you’ve done a good job of raping beloved franchises into total disasters, Garfield, Alvin & The Chipmunks, Marmaduke, Fantastic Four, Star Wars, it’s like whenever they put these movies out, they forget why people loved these franchises to begin with.
One of those examples that does not get talked about that much is the 2004 adaptation of Fat Albert:
Fat Albert is a 2004 American live-action/animated fantasy romantic comedy film based on the Filmation animated series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. The film was produced by Davis Entertainment for 20th Century Fox, and stars Kenan Thompson as the title character.
The problem with this movie is that there was a lot of potential for this, Bill Cosby was behind this project, you have a director in Joel Zwick, who had just directed one of the biggest comedy hits of all time at that point, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you had Kenan Thompson in near perfect casting as Fat Albert, there was no way this could possibly fail…oh, wait, this is Fox, they eventually found a way to screw this up, so how did they do it? Let’s take a look.
That’s right, we’re going deep on this one because this is one of those movies that you just have to hear from somebody who saw it to understand how bad it is, so, this is Fat Albert:
The film opens with a traditional animated sequence featuring Fat Albert performing the original series’ theme song “Gonna Have a Good Time”.
OKAY, first problem right off the bat, the animation in this is too good….yeah, that’s right, one of the rare times when commenting on how good the animation is actually is a flaw against the movie. You see, the original Fat Albert TV series was a Filmation production and anybody who knows Filmation knows that they were more known for telling more in-depth and serious storylines than focusing on beautiful animation, figuring that they could spend more money focusing on more topical storylines and recycling animation, the animation was not their priority but more focus was on the stories they would tell. Here, it seems like they are doing the opposite, the focus is more on the higher quality animation than an actual interesting story. Case in point…
In real life, Doris Robertson (Kyla Pratt) is a depressed teenager still recovering from the death of her grandfather, and she is ignoring her foster sister Lauri’s efforts to bring her a social life, Lauri is played by Dania Ramirez. Upon learning that her parents will be away for a two-day business trip to the Poconos…which, wow, what a douchey way of telling them that, it’s like that scene in Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius where the aliens use notes that say, We Went To Florida For An Extended Vacation, we sure that her parents weren’t taken by aliens to feed their chicken alien leader here?…
Doris sadly lets a tear hit her TV remote, as Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids is on. The tear opens up a portal between the cartoon world and the real world and Fat Albert jumps out of the TV, knowing she has a problem.
So, Fat Albert is able to figure out that tears can somehow magically open portals to other worlds? How the hell does that work? We’ll never know, it’s like those magic tears that made the dolphins able to talk in that god awful Titanic animated movie the Nostalgia Critic reviewed.
Then, Rudy, Dumb Donald, Mushmouth, Bucky, and Old Weird Harold jump out as well; Bill tells Russell to stay put and cover for them. Which they probably did because they probably couldn’t find an actor to play Russell hence why they got Jeremy Suarez from The Bernie Mac Show to do the voice and he only appears in this as an animated character.
Doris insists she is fine, but the gang knows otherwise and the show ends and they have to wait until the next day’s show to come back. And by ends, I mean, abruptly ends, like they go into the kitchen for a bit involving pop cans…which, okay, I was born in 1989 so I don’t know much about how pop cans were like back then but…the way the guys are so fascinated about how pop cans work in modern times is a little…stupid…but not as stupid as the show just ending as they are coming into the living room like TV Land is the biggest troll in this movie because they always end the show at the stupidest points ever…and we’ll delve more into that a little later.
They follow Doris to school…which is weird because the movie begins with her at school and then she goes home and then goes back to school… and are amazed by the new technology like pop cans, cell phones, and laptops….with pointless Jeff Garlin and Aaron Carter cameos.
So, essentially, we have a fish out of water story and to be honest, they do have one gag that actually does work where they look at a poster of themselves and realize “they’re coming out on divduh (DVD),” that was a slightly amusing line.
Albert notices Lauri and falls in love with her. Reggie, an annoying schoolmate with an obsessive crush on Lauri, challenges Albert to a track race that Albert wins.
In another attempt to help Doris, the gang persuades some cheerleaders to invite them all to an outdoor party. And by persuade, they basically ask and they say yes….no real conflict here, guys.
With some reluctance, Doris agrees to attend then went to a shopping mall…and this is where the absurdity really gets ridiculous because they show up at this mall and are just awestrucked like there’s never been a mall in the 1970s before…oh wait, there was a movie that came out in the 1970s called Dawn Of The Dead, where did it take place? A MALL!!! Come on, filmmakers, you can not be this fucking stupid.
While at the party, Lauri dances with Albert. Reggie desperately attempts to make her jealous by dancing with Doris. When Lauri does not notice him, he tries to kiss Doris. Doris is offended and causes a scene. Albert warns the boy to stay away from Doris. The next day, Doris goes to school, but asks the gang to go to the park instead of following her. Harold, normally clumsy, joins in a basketball game and is able to play perfectly. Mushmouth, who cannot talk normally, is taught how to speak by a little girl. Donald goes to the library and is able to read and remove his pink face-covering hat.
So, yeah, for some reason, all of these characters’ tropes they were known for in the show are suddenly changed around….for no reason whatsoever…and they never explain why this is happening nor do they explain why Albert, Bill, Bucky, and Rudy aren’t being affected by it, they just forget about it.
When Doris takes them home, only three of the gang members, Bucky, Harold and Donald (whose eyes float in the TV without the hat on) jump into the TV, Breaking News interrupts the show before the other four can enter. Yes, they break into the show AGAIN and the worst possible time and this time it doesn’t even make any damn sense because TV Land doesn’t break into breaking news, it’s a fucking cable channel for classic sitcoms and dramas, this makes no SENSE!!!!
Albert and Bill have an argument in private about going back….even though Bill has exactly the right point of the situation since because their colors are fading, they will be erased from existence if they continue to live life in the real world…but Albert is like….fuck that shit, I wanna get laid. No, really, that’s why Albert wants to stay in the real world, to be with Lauri. And I’m sorry but this is not who Fat Albert is, Albert would never risk something so important for his own selfish needs, in the cartoons, he would always help out other people by giving advice to people and making decisions to help and sometimes save others, sometimes it didn’t work but those moments made him a more human and realistic character than most people give him credit for. This movie’s portrayal of Albert as selfish and lovelorn once he meets somebody he’s got it bad for goes completely against the whole concept of the character altogether, plain and simple.
The gang takes Doris and Lauri to a fair on a junk-made car, Rudy; meanwhile, has fallen in love with Doris and ask her if she would go out with him if he was a real person and she said yes….and it never really goes anywhere.
Searching for guidance, Fat Albert literally meets his maker, Bill Cosby and tells him of the dilemma.
And this is where the movie should get interesting, you have the creator meeting his own creation, this should lead to an interesting setup…and what they come up with for this scene is so stupid…
Mr. Cosby tells him that his character is based on Doris’ grandfather Albert Robertson which explains Doris’ confusion over why Fat Albert seems so familiar to her. Mr. Cosby warns Fat Albert that he has to return to the cartoon world, or he will turn into celluloid dust (as indicated by the faded color of their clothes).
So, yeah, they’re trying to create this emotional storyline out of this scenario but my god, it is so hammy and cheesy and it’s not even the most cheesiest thing this movie does to try to tug at your heartstrings, wait until you hear the bullshit they do at the end…
But first, how about the big misunderstanding cliché, yeah, they have to throw that shit in there. Devastated, Albert tries to tell Lauri that he has to leave, but she thinks that he is just being insensitive. The next day, Rudy, Bill, and Mushmouth jump back into the TV (with Mushmouth starting to speak unclear again). Albert waits and go to the track meet…although giving how the TV schedule works in this world, yeah, get back in that TV quick, who knows when they’re gonna cut to some random clips from the OJ Simpson trial next. Albert is there where Doris and Lauri are competing, encourages Doris to a victory. Reggie, who witnessed that the gang is from the TV, attempts to threaten Albert…oh and not just threaten Albert, he screams out to all these people “hey, everybody, look, it’s Fat Albert” like…what the hell is your plan, dude? Like really, who is going to give a crap about this? What is this really going to do to help you out? NOTHING!!! You’re nothing but a fucking attention whore. You know who Reggie is, Reggie is this film’s version of Taye Diggs in Equilibrium, remember the scene in Equilibrium where he gloats over the fact that he caught Christian Bale crying and he’s all over the top and loud like “pay attention to me as I chew up all the scenery here,” that’s friggin’ Reggie in this, he’s there to just be the shallow villain and an attention whore.
Even Albert is tired of his bullshit and basically tells him to just fuck off already…okay, he doesn’t say that but he does say “hey, hey, hey…get out of our way” and it works, Albert rushes to the girls’ home on a borrowed skateboard…which even though Albert is literally dying and fading out, he apparently still has enough energy to perfectly do skateboarding moves like fucking Tony Hawk….because skateboarding is KEWL!!!! He says goodbye to Doris and Lauri (who now believes that Albert is from the TV…because Bill basically jumps out of the TV and says, “hey, get your ass back in here”) and jumps back into the TV and gives a half-assed life lesson and points to the camera, obviously pointing to Doris & Lauri…and then, the stupidest, most sappiest, more ridiculously emotionally manipulative ending of all time happens…get this…
Sometime later, Mr. Cosby and his friends (who were in his routines, then were characters in the show) stand in front of their old friend Albert Robertson’s grave. As the camera pans on each of the men, images of their counterparts are seen. Doris watches them. The old men race away; they are still kids at heart, the same kids from the TV show that they helped Bill Cosby inspire.
I mean, my god, you could not make this come off as more forced and more Hallmark Channelesque than they do here. And I get it, they’re trying to tie it back into Cosby’s old routines but come on, there’s a better way to do it than this manipulative Lifetime channel Collateral Beauty Xfinity Christmas ad level of emotional bullshit, you’re only doing this to get a cheap tear out of the audience like there’s a message to this whole thing, the only message this whole movie is that Fat Albert is a beloved franchise and we just destroyed it with this garbage movie. Sincerely, 20th Century Fox, money, please…NOW!!!!
The best way to describe the Fat Albert movie is disappointment and a bad disappointment, you had the creator right there, he should tell you how these characters should act but no, this whole movie is nothing but a cashgrab and a bad one, they waste so much potential with this movie, they try to update the animation and it fails miserably, they try to do the fish out of water story and it fails miserably, they try to go for the cheapest more manipulative ways to get an emotion out of you and it fails miserably. This whole movie is a massive failure and a huge disservice to the show itself.
You’re better off just watching the original cartoon series and you should, it still holds up. This movie, however, does not, it’s another example of 20th Century Fox taking yet another beloved franchise and just ruining it. Avoid this movie like the plague, hey, hey, hey.
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