Fat Albert Joel Zwick

Fat Albert Joel Zwick
Every time another retro television show is made into a movie, adult filmgoers collectively groan. Generally, the shows the studios choose to make into feature films are better taken in half-hour doses. But take a classic cartoon TV show and turn it into a live-action movie and the results must be worse than usual, like Rocky and Bullwinkle, right? Not so in the case of Fat Albert.

The best thing about this movie is that it admits up front that Fat Albert is a cartoon in re-runs. It doesn't take us into the lives of Albert and his friends, rather it brings them into our world (having Albert and friends climb out of the TV set), making it more accessible for the kids of today who have never seen the show. The storyline is a little painful to endure at times because of its completely clichéd and predictable nature, but kids are likely to enjoy it because Fat Albert is loveable and there are some fun moments. For example, in their adjustment from cartoons into real people, the gang don't know if they have bodies drawn underneath their clothes. In one scene, Dumb Donald is asked why he wears his trademark hat that covers the upper part of his head. His answer, "Because I don't have a face."

Adults who fondly remember the TV show will appreciate the very end of the film when Bill Cosby and all his friends who inspired the original characters visit the grave of the real Fat Albert. The film is about as hokey as the original show, but the nostalgia for anything from the '70s or '80s has clouded our recollection of the actual quality of these programs. It's this very nostalgia that is to blame for all these TV shows-turned feature films, and for DVD box sets of shows like Dallas and Mork & Mindy. So, how about a Welcome Back, Kotter movie next? (Fox)