Thomas and I went to see Fat Albert (or “Fat Albret” as Thomas says it) Monday night. Believe it or not, it was great! I was prepared for a mind-numbing movie resurrecting the cartoon that would be painful to watch. But what I got was much more.
First, it was the first time in a very long time that I’ve seen a “family” film that was truly family oriented. There was no cursing, and only one use of the now ubiquitous “Oh my G_d!” [As an aside, that exclamation really bothers me. People use it without even thinking; it gets said by some people almost as often as they say the word "the" or "and." I hate how so many "kids" shows or "family" shows have characters saying that every other sentence.] Anyway, the film got a PG rating for “momentary language,” but I didn’t detect any. There were two scenes where Mushmouth says something which is completely unintelligible, to which Old Weird Harold exclaims “Watch your mouth!” That was funny.
Anyway, it’s a very funny film. Parts of it are unbelievable, but so is the premise: Fat Albert and the gang come through a girl’s television to help her solve a problem. So you just have to suspend disbelief a little bit more.
There are also lessons to be learned here, about achievement, effort, and knowing who you are. And it’s funny. Did I mention that?
The end of the film is great, too. But to discuss it, I have to give it away. So if you don’t want it spoiled, read no further.
At one point, Fat Albert seeks out the real Bill Cosby. After Bill recovers from his initial shock, Albert tells Bill what has transpired. Albert says he came to help “Doris” with her problem. Cosby asks, “Who’s Doris?” Albert responds that she’s “Doris Robertson.” Cosby then tells Albert that Albert Robertson was a friend of Bill’s, was Doris’ grandfather, that he had died recently, and that when Cosby designed Fat Albert, he designed him after Albert Robertson. Now you see the connection, and the supposed reason why Albert was able to come out of the television.
Anyway, at the end, the camera opens onto a cemetery. It zooms in on a headstone that says “Albert Robertson” and below that “Our ‘Fat Albert’”. We then see Cosby lay flowers on the grave. The camera pans around and there are several old men standing with Cosby. As the camera pans past each man, there is a brief shot from the cartoon of one of the characters; these are the men on which those characters were based! Cosby’s old friends from North Philly. It was at this point that a tear ran down my face… It was a very touching scene to see all these old men at the grave of their friend.
Now, these men are not listed in the credits. IMDB does not list them. So far no one has been able to get definitive proof that those men really were Cosby’s inspirations for the characters, but that’s the general consensus. I hope it turns out to be true.
Anyway, go see it with your family. It’s excellent!