Hello, Spongey here. And welcome, to Toon’d Out Month 3!
Back in 2012, I did my first theme month, known as Toon’d Out month. I looked at some films based on cartoons, good and bad. Cat in the Hat was crap, Garfiled was meh, Rocky and Bullwinkle was fun, George of the Hungle was solid, Inspector 2 sucked, Ninja turtles the next mutation was dumb, Scooby Doo was decent, and Trasnfomers 2…was Transformers 2.
Either way, it was a big hit for me, so I did a 2nd one the following year. GI Joe the Rise of Cobra was fun, Bratz was awful, The Smurfs was bad, Scooby Doo 2 was fun, Dragonball Evolution sucked, and The Last Airbender super sucked. That one did well too, so I knew I would do a 3rd one.
And here we are. After I started, I figured I would eventually cover every live action adaptation in some way. But there’s only so many left, so this will be the last one. I’ll try to cover the ones I wanted to do last time but couldn’t. Now, there a few I won’t ever do, like the ones brilliantly covered by Nostalgia Critic (Masters of the Universe, Mr Maggo) or just ones I’ve talked a bit in some capacity (Alvin in the chipmunks).
Also, no sequels, except one. I want to save those for their own time. Anyway, for the first subject, I let my “fans” on Deviant Art, take the first pick, and someone picked this, so here we are.
This one is a bit more obscure. I saw some ads when it came out, but otherwise, no one ever talks about it. It’s based off the 1972 cartoon “Fat Albert and the Cosboy Kids” which was made by Bill Cosby and was about a fat dude and his Junkyard friends.
Like any old cartoon like this. I’ve never seen it but I know about it thanks to the it’s legacy and the lead character’s catchphrase. It was fairly popular and old which is all Hollywood needs to green lit a live action version.
So in 2004, we got this. It’s a tad different from other live action adaptations, but we’ll get into that in a bit. It’s directed by Joel Zwick, who gave us My Big Fat Greek weeding, but now he’s mostly doing Disney Sitcom episodes.
Of course I know that.
It has a 20 something on Rotten Tomatoes but the reaction was still mixed (With RT calling it a “bland but good natured adaptation”). Like I said before, no one ever talks about this one, positively or negatively
That means one of two things: It’s an underrated gem or a forgettable mess …I think I know which one it is.
This, is Fat Albert
After I discover I’m doing 2 Fox movies in a row, the film opens in the animated world, with our titular character, saying his catchphrase right away.
“Hey Hey Hey, it’s Fat Albert!”
Yep, we’re starting off with a cartoon, because even they knew we only cared about that part. As we meet Albert and his crew, they are singing cuz we gotta have the original theme in there. . After that….we cut to the live action world. Boo, don’t entice with what we want than take us to the boring part!
We are introduced to our live action main character, Doris, played by Kyla Pratt (who I know as Penny from The Proud Family) as her sister, Lauri, is trying to get her to go to this big party. Doris isn’t interested, which upsets her sister who so wanted her sister to hang with her incredibly stereotypical high school friends.
She goes home only to learn her parents are going away for the weekend. You think they would tell her something like that before they leave, especially when her sister looks like the type to throw a party.
So she drowns her woes by watching Fat Albert, because of course. As you would expect, this isn’t the show itself, but rather a new version made for the movie, which has much better animation. In this “episode” we see that Albert is trying to stop his friend Danielle from skipping school. Oh, and hi Raven Symone.
While watching, Doris sheds a tear (cuz watching a fat guy piss off Raven depresses her?) and it hits the remote. Suddenly, Albert says he hears a noise. Which pisses off Danielle who turns out to be an “Animated Actor” so to speak.
In the animated world, a tear falls from the sky and suddenly Doris faces appears in front of the gang. Because this one girl is crying, Fat Albert runs over to the portal and he jumps through it….entering the live action world.
…Okay, let me get this straight. A tear falling on the remote makes Fat Albert enter the real world. ….The hell? I like that they are going the “Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) approach but even that movie made more sense!
First tears make dolphins talk, now they bring cartoons to life. Seriously, imagine if this worked in real life. If you excuse, I’m gonna go punch myself so I cry on my remote while watching Spongebob.
“Hey Hey Hey, How’d I get this way?”
I really hope they don’t over do it on the hey hey hey. (They will). Anyway, live action Albert is played by Kenan Thompson, which is actually decent casting. Suddenly, Albert’s friends, which include Rudy, Dumb Donald, Mushmouth, Bucky, and Old West Harold, all played by actors you can look up yourself.
“We gotta get back”
“No, this girl has a problem”
Yes, one girl out of …a lot, has a problem so we must stop everything for her! Doris (who did react, but I skipped it) tries to get them away by saying she has no problem ….but they can’t go back in the cartoon world because the show is on commercial.
How the show can go on without the characters is anyone’s guess.In the meantime, Doris gets something from the kitchen but Albert and his gang appear.
“Don’t you make noise when you enter a room?”
“I never thought about it…We just enter”
Heh, that was funny.
The gang is mesmerized by the idea of….sodas you can open. Did they not have soda cans in the 70’s? Anyway, they get back to the living room to find out the show is over for the day. It won’t be on again til tomorrow, so they are stuck here.
I’d nitpick how this works but in a movie where tears bring cartoons to life, logic is clearly not welcome. So now we must suffer oh so clever jokes about the characters in the real world. Like that won’t be done to death in a few years.
The next day, they follow Doris on the way to school and on the way we go through some future shock jokes, like a gag where they see Jeff Garlin on a Cell phone. Also, no one sees them and goes OHAI FAT ALBERT. Not even the adults do this, and they should recognize them!
After some guilt tripping, Doris lets them go to school with her, which can only lead to good things. Back in the animated world, this jackass that was bugging Albert earlier, plans to take over the junkyard. Well, at least we have our villain.
The teacher lets Albert in the gang in the classroom with Doris cuz no one would ask questions or anything. But she does have them introduce themselves.
“I’m Fat Albert”
Everyone, but I’m not sure if it’s cuz the name is odd or they think that he thinks he’s the “real” Fat Albert. Seriously, they establish FA is a show in this world so why does no one recognize them?’
“We’re here because Doris has a problem. She has no friends so we can here to tell everyone to be her friend”
Then it’s on to more Fish out of water jokes, as the class must use some laptops. A bit later, they go outside and Drois tells them she runs track but she’s no good.
“Hey hey hey, Don’t be that way”
Oh god, they will over do it.
They see Lauri (who Is actually her foster sister) and Albert takes a liking to her. Well….ew. He goes up and talks to her, and it’s pretty awkward. But there’s this weird dude who has the hots for Lauri too which means….love triangle. It will be played by laughs, but that doesn’t make it any less stupid.
He makes some fat jokes at Albert, who challenges him to a race. So they race and Albert wins because, I guess his cartoon psychics allow him to run fast. Hey, it’s the best explanation I have. Or maybe even Fat people can outrun bad green screen effects, I don’t know.
“You haven’t seen the last of me, fat man!”
Okay, now we have two generic villains!
“No makes a fool out of Reggie, except Reggie”
Even Albert looks him weirdly after that dumb line.
After school, Albert talks to his pals about his chances of scoring Lauri. He thinks has a shot since she reacted well ot him when he talked to her. Huh, she doesn’t seem like the type to tolerate Al but in the world of kid’s movies, anything is possible. Again, TEARS BRING CARTOONS TO LIFE.
But anyway, it’s time to date this movie as the gang walks by a video store and see an ad for their show on DVD. Okay, so now the WHY DON’T PEOPLE KNOW THEM question is valid. Then they see some cheerleaders, and think they could make good friends for Doris, cuz we all cared about that plot line..
They talk to the cheerleaders, and the head chick….invites them to a party. Well, they are gonna get pranked there, calling it now.
“Hey Hey Hey, Fat Albert’s gonna save the day”
It’s getting old.
They tell Doris what happened and she is not pleased, but they gang wants her to go the party.
“Do you want us to go back in the TV?”
“Are they threatening me?”
“…Is it working?”
That was kind of funny.
Since Doris self aware about what Alpha Bitches are like, they eventually agrees to go with them. But first they go to the mall for more Fish out of water jokes!
One such joke is when two of the guys are listening to some sample music in a store and suddenly they take their headphones off.
“What did he just say?!”
You know-for kids!
Albert hits a big and tall store which means FASHION MONTAGE. Though, Ill give this one credit: He ends up buying EVERYTHING seen in the montage, which is kind of funny.
“I don’t have any money”’
“Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“You didn’t ask”
…Eh, that was a little funny.
Back in the animated world, that jackass still wants the junkyard and…that’s all we see before we cut back. That had a point!
Albert and the gang head back to Doris’ place and see a rap video on TV and of course they dance to it. But all in not well, as these 2 guys look at this picture they took and notice Marty Mcfly is vansih-i mean they are losing color.
“Pictures aren’t real”
“Neither are we”
That’s deep, man.
They are interrupted by Doris popping up in her outfit for the party, and one of the dudes is smitten. Ew. So they head the party which is what you would expect given it’s a teen party in the kids’ movie.
At the party, Albert hits on Lauri and she actually seems to like him okay. I can take the whole tears cartoon thing but now I officially put my foot down on vapid teen liking a fat guy!
Doris is all alone in the corner, and Al intends to fix that. In the meantime, Mushmouth serenades the ladies like the pimp master he is. But after that, the music stops so Reggie can give a speech cuz again, any party I see in a movie like this has that. Reggie calls out Albert but of course Al is very naive.
For some reason, Reggie hands him the mic and Albert says he’s gonna sing cuz….why not? …Anyway, he launches into a mid movie rap number that is better than most “random kids movie rap numbers” out there (it’s an odd cliché) but it’s still random and dumb,.
Also, he says Hey hey hey again. He said it a couple times before this too. If he says it one more time, I will rant.
The teens get into it, which angers Reggie. What was his plan, exactly? Yes, I’ll make him sing, that will defeat my enemy!
Also, Mushmouth has his own garbled verse and it’s still more profound than most Rap artists these days. After the song, a slow song starts, and it’s so sudden I wanted to call BLAM on the rap scene.
Either way, Albert dances with Lauri. Reggie looks at them like the cliché jerkass he is while that one dude who was stricken with Doris hits on her before Reggie takes her instead. I’d go “ew” but he just said he thinks Lauri is making him jealous by being with Al, so I guess this is to get rid of Al…somehow.
Doris pushes him away and walks off.
ALBERT: Stay away from here. Or you’re gonna have to deal with me.
BOW DOWN TO THE MIGHT OF FAT ALBERT.
Rudy, the guy that likes Doris, goes after her. Doris insists she doesn;t have a problem, and everything was fine until they showed up. This oblgiatory scene would be sad if it made sense. Oh no some douche hit on you. Yeah, that sucks but some on, Albert and his hang haven’t done much to hurt you.
On another note, why did the gang get invited to the party if they weren’t gonna be embarrassed? Only Reggie, who didn’t even help invite him, tried to make a fool of him. Does this movie exist in a world where cheerleaders just invite weirdos to parties?
That or Albert got enough Retweets.
This has been your topical joke of the week. Hey, be glad it’s not Oscar related.
Speaking of Al, he’s off with Lauri cuz who cares about your new friend when you have free pussy?!
They talk and Lauri talks about how her parents are dead. That would have been nice to flat out tell us earlier instead of lazily dumping it on us now.
“Sometimes it hurts so bad I don’t wanna care about anyone”
Your acting…does not hurt but it is weak with that line.
They arrive home and she declares Al to be her BFF, who she just met today! With that, Albert becomes the happiest guy in the friend zone ever. Also, where is Albert going? He kind of lives here for now, and on that note, how does Lauri not know about Al being there already?
Well, anyway she talks to Doris in her room.
“Ever since your grandpa passed away, you’re not the same”
I guess this was hinted at earlier, but it would have been nice to know before this part.
The next morning, Doris walks outside to see the gang on the stoop. So did they just…stay there all night? Where were they? MY ENJOYMENT OF THIS MOVIE HINGES ON KNOWING WHERE THESE CHARACTERS SLEEP LAST NIGHT.
…Besides,they tell her they just go here from…where they were. Question is still valid.
She suggests they stay home cuz people are getting suspicious (even though they aren’t and they gang is infact, popular ) so they hit the park. The tall one plays basketball (of course) Rudy does some pull ups on the bars, and the one with hat covering his eyes hits the library.
Also, Mushmouth learns proper English from a little girl. Harold, the tall one, does well on the court even though he is usually clumsy. Donald, the one with the hat, suddenly starts getting smarter over at the Library. He is even able to take off his hat!
…Wait, so if a cartoon character enters reality, they loose their main characteristic? It makes sense for Mushmouth, as his thing is unrealistic, but I’m pretty sure dumb people and clumsy people exist so they could be here fine. So with one tear, I could make a talkin’ Ferb or something?
…Eh, now I’m just nitpicking. The characters are also losing their color fast and they are starting to fade. I like this, as it adds some urgency to the plot and it also kind of makes sense.
At least until you remember how they got here in the first. No, I’m not letting it go, even if Elsa demands me to. But you know what makes no sense? This line:
“I can see his behind!”
“Looks like it’s broken”
…Are you seriously telling me they have never seen a a butt before?! Even by cartoon logic, that makes no sense! They had enough movement to see that! Plus, they could do that in real life to start with and they couldn’t until now?
By the way,, the fading made this guys pants vanish yet no one else has this problem because COMEDY.
Back in the animated world, the jackass challenges this little dude who was left behind, to a game of…something, and if he wins, he gets the junk yard. You can nitipick that logic all you want.
Also, the cars in the background are obviously CG, and bad CG at that. The actual character animations itself is good, but that….not so much.
Anyway, our heroes make it home to catch their show so they can get back in. They arrive in time to see the jackass try to take over. So some of the guys finally jump back in the TV, as they don’t belong in the real world.
“When you change yourself, you lose the essence of who you really are”
But, you didn’t do this to change yourself. You just wanted to help someone. I hope that was a joke or this is one forced moral. When Donald enters, we find out he wore no hat cuz he has no face, and we see he just has floating eyeballs.
That…is pretty funny.
Albert says he wants to stay, just as the show is interrupted by a breaking news thing. One guy calls him out because he knows Albert is only saying to be with Lauri.,
“I care about Lauri. Maybe I should starting caring about myself”
“I don’t know who you are anymore”
“Hey Hey hey, I’m gonna stay!”
Okay, now they have overdone it. Yes, it’s his catchphrase but some phrase get old! But wait, I have to breakdown why this bit is dumb.
It’s nice that Fat Albert of all things has an attempt at development, but since their romance was rather flat, it kind of makes Albert out to be an asshole. You care about some chick so much you will ditch your friends, AND risk vanishing forever?
Call the 2nd thing romantic all you want, it’s still rather stupid.
“Hey Hey hey, friends don’t let friends fade away!”
“Don’t use my lines on me”
Yeah, it’s annoying no matter who says it.
Lauri arrives home in the middle of their argument. I feel like this “conflict” only exists cuz the writers realized we are only an hour into his 87 minute movie. She invites Albert to the fair going on that night, and he accepts.
Since there’s no way the news thingy could end before the show does since it just started, Doris and the rest decide to go as well. So they head out, and Albert and Lauri have fun. But Mushmouth, and some dude, are stuck with only each other.
“How come Fat Albert and Rudy both have girls and I just have you?’
The way the other guy reactsto that is what makes this kind of funny. While Albert and Lauri go on a so-not-green screened rollercoaster, Rudy talks to Doris and asks if she would go out with him if he was real.
“But we are on a date”
Then you should have told him that earlier before he made a fool of himself. Also, isn’t one forced romance enough?
Anyway, after the ‘coaster ride, a kid recognizes Fat Albert from the TV. FINALLY! Seriously, it took over an hour for logic to set in?
The kid tells Albert he should be back in the show, cuz the jackass is taking over. I’ll just assume that the viewers assume Albert being gone is part of that episodes plot, so I can move on the next plot point I’ll nitpick.
Lauri tells Doris that Albert is a really nice and cool guy. Since we now know Lauri isn’t vain and can go for guys, I’ll just bitch about how forced the romance itself still is.
“The kind of guy that will always be here for me”
With that, we cut to Albert knocking on some guys front door. Who is that guy?
It’s Bill Cosby. Okay, it’s cool that the creator of the show appears as himself in the movie. Also, he wrote this movie so it makes even more sense. But how did Al know where he lives? And how lucky is that he lives in the same city Al ended up in?
After the show, Albert proves he is actually Bill’s character. He explains how he got here. As it turns out, Albert himself inspired by Doris’ grandather, Albert.
“You heard her spirit call through the set”
Okay, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s kind of clever and now the tear thing makes….SLIGHTLY more sense. But it’s also a very odd coincidence. Bill Cosby (in this movie, I have no idea if any of this is true in any way) happened to know this guy that would be a grandfather to someone into the show?
And it’s also odd how she didn’t know her Grandfather inspired a classic cartoon Character. I guess he didn’t think that part was interesting enough to tell anyone about.
Right after, Bill tries to rush him back in the TV, which is kind of amusing. Al still wants to say, but Cosby tells hm that if he doesn’t go back in soon, he will turn to dust. How does he know this? Maybe after his thing with the dead, he knows all this crazy crap, I don’t know.
Then it cuts to Albert talking to Lauri. Bill just let him leave without any further comment? …Well anyway, Albert tells her the truth and that he will be fading soon if he doesn’t go back in the TV.
“Albert, get some help”
She….doesn’t buy it. Also, way to hear your new best friend…bitch. Lauri tells Doris about it, and she tries to get Lauri to believe her about Albert. So the next day Doris has a track meet, but right before it, the reaming cartoon characters head home to finally go back in the TV.
Most of them go back, leaving Albert as the only one left. Before he leaves, he has a tearful goodbye with Doris.
“It seems I know you…I have known you, for a long time”
Then they hug. Dang it….that was actually kind of sweet. Doris leaves but Albert tells his pals that he has figured out the reason he’s here, and he has to help Doris believe in herself. Christ, how can such a short movie feel so padded?
So Doris goes back to the track meet (which Lauri is in as well) and Al shows up to encourage her. This works and she is given the confidence needed to win, which is why she wins.
All she needed to get better was receive encouragement from a friend who is a cartoon character she lets, that is inspired by her dead grandpa? …Eh, it kind of clever in a way. But guess what? There’s still more!
Reggie, who is in the plot again, saw Albert’s pals go in the TV earlier so now, he tells the crowd Albert isn’t who he appears to be. Albert’s response is to pick him up by his shirt.
“Hey Hey Hey, get out of my way”
Wow, that actually badass. But man, Reggie was a weak ass villain, wasn’t he? So, Albert rushes home just in time. Before he goes, Lauri talks to him. She buys it now but she doesn’t like that he is leaving. Albert assures him he will be always be there for here….on TV, every day!
Also, Doris figures out that Albert reminds her of her grandpa. Al just goes “Cool story bro” and finally enters the animated world to scare off the jackass. The jackass leaves, proving he is the Reggie of animated villains.
So Albert goes back to the whole Danielle thing from earlier. She says everyone who cares about her ends up leaving her…which is what Lauri said earlier. Whoa! That was done just to hammer in the moral here, but still….cool.
The lesson is that you can’t let fear stop you from caring about the ones you love. Basic, but I’ve heard worse.
Then we cut to Bill and his oddly familiar friends, at …the grandpa Albert’s grave. We see that each of his friends were inspirations for the show’s characters and the old guys run off like kids.
Then…..roll credits. Well, that was-
“It’s not over, you gotta watch the end credits!”
That ending was abrupt, as usual, but ….it was also kind of a tear jerker. Really! It was interesting, because it showed us how personal the show, and this film, was to Bill Cosby. Even if half of this stuff about the inspirations was made up, this shows that he least put passion into this.
It’s a little sappy but man, it’s actually kind of effective. I didn’t see that coming, at all. Again, it’s an abrupt ending and it enforces some of my issues with the film but it also…kind of saves it!
Either way, it’s finally over.
For the most part, I was pretty indifferent to this one. It’s no “George of the Jungle” but it’s also no Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s not all that good, but it’s also not bad. There isn’t anything that makes it amazing, but it didn’t truly anger me that much. I like that they went the Adventures of Rocky and Bull winkle route, (Hey, Kenan was in that too!) without making it as bad as when The Smurfs kind of did it.
I think my problem comes down to the problem most movies like this have: The film exclusive characters. Most of these things feel they need an audience surrogate character, so we get the bores from Smurfs, Transformers, and Alvin. Yeah, the last one was from the show but what they did with him was typical.
For most of the film run time, Doris (and to an extent Lauri) were very typical characters. Not the worst examples but Doris was kind of boirng for the most part, and the writers seemed to fighting over when to focus on the entire reason Al wanted to stay in the first place, or the interesting part.
Though she’s not annoying boring, just normal boring. On top of that, I think the twist saves it. They take the dumber aspects of the plot and make it better. Now Doris is kind of an interesting way for Bill to show how special the show was to him.
It’s actually kind of sweet, and it’s a tribute to the original series, instead of a disgrace. Yeah. They made changes and all that, but with Cosby involved,it has the heart. It doesn’t make up for the weak writing early, but it does help the movies overall grade.
The story is pretty basic, but half of it works. I did sometimes enjoy the whole thing with them needing to go back in the TV. It plays with cartoon conventions and that’s what I want more of in these things. They either miss the point of the series, pick shows that don’t need a film, or make it too hip.
At times, it seems like the last 2 apply but again, the ending saves it. The whole thing with Doris in the plot was kind of dull and the weaker written parts involve the dumb romance. Also, Reggie is one of the most ineffectual villains I’ve seen in any kids movie.
Albert himself is still kind of likable, with Kenan being a decent fit. Yeah that one bit made him a dick but overall, he was fine. The rest were all just jokes but I grew to enjoy them too. All the actors play their parts well, though Lauri is wooden at times.
It’s not all that hilarious, but it’s rarely painful, and I even chuckled a few times. The film itself is like that, really. Never amazing, but never painful. Some may disagree, but aside from some small things, none of the jokes made me want to kill myself.
At times the writing can be a bit dumb, as I’ve shown, but the entire ending just improves the film itself. Some could call it forced but I think the heart was in the right place. Overall, this movie was….okay. It’s equal parts “meh” and “Tolerable”.
I was ready to give a normal C, but with the ending, I’ll bump it up. It’s an okay watch that won’t hurt you if you were interesting in it, but it’s also not good enough to sway the detractors
Hey Hey hey, it’s just okay!
Yes, this got the same grade as films like After Earth and Green Lantern. Make of that what you will.
So, that was an okay start. How about next time we ditch the typical gag, and do a live action adaptation I honestly like?
…Yeah, I have some explaining to do.