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Fat Albert

Hey Hey Hey 2.0

If your Fat Albert related memories consist of Saturday morning television, Fruit Loops and you in Star Wars pajamas, turn around and go home. This live-action version of the beloved Bill Cosby cartoon is not for you. However if you’ve got a nephew, daughter or neighborhood child you can kidnap for the afternoon, step right up. They’ll love it and it won’t annoy you too much.

In Fat Albert ’04, Albert and his friends (Bill, Rudy, Weird Harold, Mushmouth, Dumb Donald) leap out of the TV set of one Doris Robertson (Kyla Pratt), a shy Philadelphia teenager who has trouble making friends. As was the plot of every episode of the cartoon, an outside character has a problem and it’s up to the gang to solve it. Along the way, Fat Albert (played with pluck by Kenan Thompson) has a sweet romance with Doris’s foster sister, challenges a rival suitor to a foot race, and discovers why he’s supposed to help Doris through the guidance of Bill Cosby himself. He and the gang are also stuck in 1972 so cell phones, DVDs, and hip-hop are fodder for anachro-comic relief.

Nothing of this should surprise you. It's yucks aplenty if you are in second grade (picture Fat Albert on a runaway skateboard) and mildly disappointing if you watched the original at that age. The movie features little of the edge of Cosby’s cartoon (the kids played “buck buck” but also saw a friend get shot) and cheats by shooting the junkyard wonderland of North Philadelphia on a Hollywood back lot. But in delivery, Fat Albert is sweet, harmless and forgettable, perfect for a Saturday with your young person, as Mr. Cosby, paraphrasing Captain Kangaroo, might have said.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5