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Fat Albert

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
Fat Albert

from Film Forum, 01/06/05

Joel Zwick, the director of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, brings another film with "fat" in the title. Fat Albert is a live-action comedy bringing to life characters who originated in Bill Cosby's classic standup routines and went on to become popular cartoon characters. Cosby, who co-wrote the script and acted as executive producer, lends his stamp of approval by appearing briefly in the film.

Critics are undecided as to whether to offer their own stamps of approval.

Steven Isaac (Plugged In) says, "Leave it to Bill Cosby to preserve Fat Albert's innocence and '70s-era Saturday-morning cartoon goofiness and charm. He and … Zwick deserve XXL kudos for refusing to give in to the 'spice-it-up' temptation that has ruined many a cultural update. The lessons here are much simpler and more broadly themed than we've become accustomed to lately. Be kind. Play nice—even in high school. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Believe in yourself. Have good clean fun. By presenting them as gracefully as he does, Cosby … not only gives kids solid values to emulate, he makes us all do some wishful thinking about the days when children's entertainment was (more often than not) children's entertainment."

But David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) alters the famed cartoon character's slogan and says, ""Hey, hey, hey! Don't throw your money away!" He's disappointed in Kenan Thompson, who plays the lead: "His impersonation of the character's signature gravelly voice is inconsistent." And he concludes, "While imparting the same sort of positive life lessons, the family-friendly film lacks the intelligence, originality and fun of the groundbreaking Saturday morning show."

Lori Souder (Christian Spotlight) disagrees. "This movie is sweet and funny and clever and fun. I enjoyed every minute of it, but some children with short attention spans may find it hard to sit through. I think that the people who will most enjoy this movie are the fans of the original TV series because they will understand the innocence of the Fat Albert characters."