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Film / Fat Albert

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Comedy comes in extra-large.

The Fat Albert movie was produced by Twentieth Century Fox and released on Christmas Day 2004. It is the live-action reboot of the '70s animated series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, written by Bill Cosby, directed by Joel Zwick, and starring Kenan Thompson in the title role.

The story follows a lonely teenage girl named Doris (Kyla Pratt) whose foster sister, Lauri (Dania Ramirez), is more popular than her and whose grandfather died before the events of the movie. After having another bad day, she tunes into Fat Albert and in the middle of one of their re-runs, she starts crying, causing a tear to hit the remote. This opens a portal between the cartoon world and the real world. Fat Albert notices this and, compelled to help her, enters the real world through the TV; soon, the gang follows. This causes all the characters to change from animated to real. However arrogant jock Reggie (Omarion Grandberry), begins to grow suspicious of Fat Albert and the gang.

During the course of the film, Fat Albert and the others decide that they like the real world a lot better and discover the modern world of North Philadelphia as well as help Doris make some friends despite her denial.


  • Acrofatic: Fat Albert challenges Reggie to a race and ends up winning it.
  • Adaptational Hairstyle Change: Weird Harold is given an afro here.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Rudy in this film is much kinder than his portrayal in the cartoon, where he was depicted as a cocky, arrogant rich boy whose antics tended to get the gang in trouble.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
    • Mudfoot. In the original series, he was a little odd but was a helpful voice of reason for the entire gang. He'd tell them stories that would help them out with their problems. In the movie, he is almost unrecognizable. In fact, he is the one who tells Albert that "[he] has a problem to solve".
    • Downplayed with Russell. He actually has the same personality he had from the original series (childlike and a bit obnoxious but still good-hearted and smart), it's just that his behavior and level of energy is different. In the movie, Russell has more childlike energy than usual. He behaves much more like how a kid his age would act as opposed to his original counterpart who spoke on the same level as the rest of the gang.
  • Alpha Bitch: Heather and her friends invite the gang to a party hoping to humiliate them.
  • Animation Bump: While the cartoon has gotten a complete makeover, the animation is far more fluid and energetic than the show which was cheap even for its time.
  • Animated Actors: Implied to be the case with the characters from the TV series.
  • Art Evolution: The movie's cartoon segments are most certainly not in Filmation's trademark style and more of a Warner Bros-type style. This, naturally, is accompanied by the above-mentioned Animation Bump by virtue of the characters also not being animated like the classic Filmation style.
  • As Himself: See Special Guest for more details.
  • Beautiful All Along: Dumb Donald in the movie says he never takes off his hat because he doesn't have a face. When he finally does take off his hat, not only does he have a face but he has a really nice one. Unfortunately, his face disappears when he jumps back into the television. This makes sense as in the cartoon, he was never seen without his hat. This means a face was never designed for him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Albert, true to his character, is as jolly and friendly as they come... but when Reggie blocks his way while Albert is trying to return to the TV before he fades into celluloid dust, he makes it exceedingly clear to Reg that he has no time for games.
    Albert: (picking Reggie up by the collar) Hey, hey, hey. Get out of our way.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with a repeat of the Fat Albert episode where the gang is playing buck-buck with the bullies and Fat Albert steps in and says "Hey, hey, hey, who wants to play?"
  • The Bully: Reggie. Also, the guy back in the cartoon world who bullies Russell and wants to take over the junkyard.
  • Cassandra Truth: Fat Albert tries to tell Lauri that he has to go back into the TV or else he'll turn into Celluloid dust, but she doesn't believe he's from the TV and thinks that he is just being insensitive.
  • The Conscience: Bill (the character) fills in for most of the movie as he tries to warn Fat Albert that they are fading away, but Fat Albert doesn't listen until the real Bill Cosby tells him. "Hey Hey Hey! Friends don't let friends fade away!"
  • Dark Reprise: Or more like "Mean-spirited mocking" reprise; "Na, na, na, gonna have a bad time..."
  • Demoted to Extra: Russell. Since he is the only member of the Cosby Kids who never leaves the cartoon world, he doesn't partake in the main storyline like the rest of the gang. However, this trope is ultimately downplayed and subverted as he does still get his own minor subplot with the teen bullies.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: When Weird Harold and Bill express concern over fading away after examining a photo of Harold and Mushmouth, Fat Albert dismisses the concerns, stating that pictures aren't real, only for Dumb Donald to reply with "Neither are we." Bill immediately agrees with him.
  • Dumbass No More: As the gang continues to stay in the real world, Dumb Donald becomes more intelligent and able to read, something he couldn't do in TV Land. When Doris finds him reading in the library, he notes that he's on Volume 22 of African-American History.
    Dumb Donald: I've become smart enough to understand that we're fading away because we've entered a world where we do not belong. If you try to become something that you're not, you lose the essence of who you really are.
  • Epic Race: There was a race between Reggie and Fat Albert (which Fat Albert won) but the race near the end takes place when Doris, due to Lauri's involvement on account of Fat Albert's suggestion was made anchor in the track race and wins.
  • Flat Character: Lauri doesn't seem to have much of a developed personality aside from being a popular Nice Girl who is considerate about her sister's feelings.
  • A Friend in Need: That's how the Junkyard gang sees Doris, so they attempt to get her some friends, unfortunately, one of them is a cheerleader named Heather, who then invites them to her party.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Reggie's attempt to humiliate Fat Albert at the disco party promptly backfires on him right in the ass, when Fat Albert sings a rap version of his theme song and gets the whole crowd dancing.
    Arthur: You know, I'm not so sure this was a good idea, Reg.
    Reggie: Shut up, dummy! There's somethin' strange bout those kids...
    (opens Coke can, only to have it spray him all over the face)
  • Jerkass: Reggie.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Part of the film's humor centers around the fact that they are aware that they are cartoons, including the can-opener rhythm scene.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: An interesting take. The show this film is based on is an in-universe series airing on TV Land, and its characters are taken from their world to the real world.
  • Loser Protagonist: Invoked by Doris, since she thinks she is a loser, lowering her self-esteem. It's up to Fat Albert and his gang to help her regain it.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Fat Albert's singing voice sounds noticeably different from his speaking voice, despite Kenan Thompson doing both. This mirrors how Fat Albert in the cartoon had a singing voice that sounded nothing like his speaking voice. note 
    • Bill's shirt has the Brown Hornet, the kids' favorite superhero in the original cartoon. Bill is even seen holding a Brown Hornet comic while the boys are at Doris' house after returning from the mall.
    • During the party scene, when Fat Albert says "I'm gonna sing a song," Weird Harold performs a self-clasping handshake, the same gesture he performed in the cartoon during the group's laughing/cheering animation.
    • When Rudy confronts Reggie at the party for embarrassing Doris, he says, "You're like school on Saturday, no class." "No class" is a line frequently used throughout the series, used to admonish someone (usually Rudy, ironically enough) for saying or doing something stupid.
  • Never Bareheaded: Dumb Donald explains that he always wears his hat because the animators didn't give him a face. He is forced to remove his hat and discovers that he does have a face. When Albert's friends return from the real world, Donald has to put his hat back on because, in their fictional world, he indeed has no face. As in, it's nothing more than a pair of floating eyeballs and a lower portion of his head, containing his mouth.
    • Also apparently, Fat Albert is never bare-chested as when the clerk at the mall offers to help him take his sweater off to try on the new clothes.
    Fat Albert: Uh... I can't take my sweater off 'cause... (whispers) I dunno what's underneath it.
  • Papa Wolf: Fat Albert to Doris at the party, standing up to Reggie: "Stay away from her, or you'll have to deal with me." This is possibly foreshadowing the twist near the third act when we find out that Doris's grandfather is Albert Robertson, the inspiration for Albert's character.
  • Parental Abandonment: We never see Doris and Lauri's parents in the movie, although we do see a note on the fridge at the beginning which says that her dad was on a business trip. All we know from the mom is that she'll be home soon. Of course, she never appears, as with the dad. Also, Doris's grandfather had passed away.
  • Pet the Dog: Although Heather is kind of a bitch, she invites Doris to her party.
  • Race Against the Clock: Once the gang find out that their colors are fading away into celluloid dust (also under Cosby's warning)
  • Running Gag: Bucky asks a question about something, to which Dumb Donald responds "I don't know". Bucky says he wasn't talking to him and Donald repeats that statement, and the two start to argue before Bill stops them. This happens at least three times, with the final time culminating in Bill snapping "don't start" before the arguing can escalate.
  • Satellite Love Interest: While she is considerate of her sister's feelings, Lauri mainly exists to give Albert a love interest and a reason to initially want to stay in the real world.
  • Special Guest: Bill Cosby appears in the movie when Fat Albert visits his house to ask for advice. He warns him that if he doesn't get back to the TV, he will turn to celluloid dust.
  • Stranger in a Strange School: Kind of invoked in the scene where Fat Albert and the gang visit Doris's school since they are real people, but they are cartoons that traveled to the real world. Plus they are from a different era, demonstrated when everyone is instructed to turn on their laptops, the gang looks at the devices strangely since they do not have that sort of technology in the show.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: Doris' tear hitting the TV remote brings Fat Albert into the real world.
  • To Absent Friends: The ending includes a cameo appearance where all of the now elderly "real life" Junkyard Gang including Bill (Cosby) of course, gather at their late friend Albert's grave.
  • Token White: Reggie's right-hand henchman, Arthur seems to be one of the few only white characters in the movie, besides Derek, the boy who befriends Rudy and copies his clothing style and a few others.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: All members of the gang (except for Russell) have apparently seem to have gotten a little dumber or naive in comparison to their original counterparts. This is justified as they all have entered a more modernized world that they are unfamiliar with.
  • A True Story in My Universe: Here, all the kids from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids are based on people that Bill Cosby grew up with.
  • The Unintelligible: Mushmouth, especially since they used Weird Harold as his translator. However, when Mushmouth ends up in the real world, he tries to sound out the word "balloon" and learns how to say it properly from a little girl. Seconds later, he can speak just fine- which indicates he's losing his special characteristics. Mushmouth can't wait to show his friends how well he can speak when he goes back to the cartoon world. Unfortunately for him, his speech immediately reverts back to a mess of babbles... to which he replies, "AW, FRIT!!"
  • Welcome to the Real World: The plot of the movie.
  • You Never Asked: At the mall, Fat Albert tries on a whole bunch of clothing, but states that he's broke. The clerk angrily collects all the clothing back. The only thing Albert got to keep was the free baseball cap the clerk had gifted him.
    Clerk: That'll be $10,428.22.
    Fat Albert: Uh, I... I don't have any money.
    Clerk: WHAT?! Why didn't you tell me that?!
    Fat Albert: You didn't ask.
    (The clerk grabs back all the clothes in a huff)