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Fat Albert

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Fat Albert Movie Poster Image
Cosby cartoon comes to life in tween-centered story.
  • PG
  • 2004
  • 90 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended for entertainment rather than information. The film introduces the city of Philadelphia in a positive way -- lively, safe, and diverse.

Positive Messages

The messages are loud and clear in both dialogue and action. It's not how you look, it's the person inside who matters. Believe in yourself; be the best that you can be. Don't try to become something you're not; you could lose the essence of who you really are. And finally: You can't let fear keep you from caring. 


Positive Role Models & Representations

Fat Albert and his friends are genuinely helpful characters, loyal to one another, respectful of others, and brave. Other than Bill Cosby, creator of Fat Albert, there are no adults. The only parents mentioned are referred to as physically and emotionally absent. The featured female characters are portrayed as strong-minded, athletic, and smart. Key players (cartoon and real) are African-American, accessible to all.


Violence & Scariness

A few cartoonish pratfalls -- Fat Albert careens down the street on a skateboard and crashes; he falls from a window ledge onto a pile of trash bags.


Sexy Stuff

Two gently budding romances. The tween and teen couples dance, briefly hug, and kiss on the cheek. An obnoxious boy tries to kiss a girl; she forcefully says, "No." In one comic sequence, it is implied that a character's cartoon paint has disappeared and his backside is showing, but it's never visible.



Some name-calling (i.e., "fatty," "fatso"), one "crap." "Mush Mouth," a character with an usual way of speaking, is teased.



An abundance of stores and products. Forever 21, White Diamond, Rochester Big & Tall, Sam Goody, Top Skater Sega, Peg Perego, Quicksilver, LA Gear, WDAS-FM, ECKO, USA TODAY, and more. The movie's story intersects with the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids TV series upon which is based and includes a number of scenes from that show.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that because of the high school setting and gentle boy-girl crushes that partially drive the story, Fat Albert will have more appeal for middle grade kids and tweens. However, other than a few cartoonish pratfalls and an avalanche of product placement, there's no iffy material for kids of any age. It's a well-intentioned, ethnically diverse, and wholesome movie with lots of clearly stated messages. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4 and 9 year old Written bykvirgin April 9, 2008

clean fun: boomer humor too

If you grew up with cosby or the cartoon series, then you'll love parts of it that will go over the kids' heads. My 6 year old loved it. we'll... Continue reading
Adult Written byChuck Reid March 16, 2012

Hey! Hey! Hey!

It's Fat Albert! This movie is very funny and really cool.It is a live action movie based on one of the best cartoons of all time.
Teen, 16 years old Written bymovieman09 April 9, 2008


There are some funny parts but mostly it is a for ages 6-11. My 10 year old brother loves it.
Teen, 13 years old Written byPinkalicious28 April 24, 2012

The Best!

OMG! Fat Albert was sooooo hysterical! I love this movie!

What's the story?

Hey hey hey! Fat Albert is back. This live action-film is based on Bill Cosby's comedy and the 1970s animated television show Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. A lonely teenaged girl named Doris (Kyla Pratt) watches the Fat Albert cartoon show after school. When her tear falls onto the remote control, Fat Albert knows he must help her. So he climbs right out of the television set and into her living room, and the whole gang comes along (Rudy, Mushmouth, Dumb Donald, Weird Harold, and Bill and his pesky little brother Russell). Dressed in their fly '70s outfits, they're completely befuddled by newfangled inventions like soda can flip-tops and cell phones. Present-day characters are mostly equally befuddled by the gang's '70s animation qualities (Fat Albert wins a race with a track star using his cartoon glide/shuffle and Dumb Donald cannot take off that face-covering hat because he is not sure there is anything underneath). But some, including Doris' sweet and pretty foster sister, are taken with their old-school charm.

Is it any good?

The storytelling in FAT ALBERT is so gentle that it barely registers, made up of disconnected moments almost as though it was limited to the brief skit-like segments of the old cartoon show. What little narrative momentum builds up is quickly dissipated without being resolved. Music video star and valet/stylist to rap stars Farnsworth Bentley has a nice cameo as a clothing store salesman, but it is unlikely that his participation will matter to the intended audience for this film.

Cosby appears as himself to talk to Fat Albert and in a poignant epilogue at the grave of the real Fat Albert, again not something that will be very meaningful to the children in the audience. The children might also be concerned about why Doris' mother and father are not around and what happened to her foster sister's family. As Fat Albert and his friends stay in the real world too long, they start to fade away. But by then the movie itself seems faded. The film feels muddled and unsure of its audience, as out of its time as Fat Albert and the gang.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how outward things like looks and money matter when it comes to popularity and the importance of a good inner voice -- even if it comes as Fat Albert.

  • How do you think teh movie Fat Albert compares with the TV show Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids?

  • How do you like the time-travel aspect of the movie?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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