A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended for entertainment rather than information. The film introduces the city of Philadelphia in a positive way -- lively, safe, and diverse.
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
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Some name-calling (i.e., "fatty," "fatso"), one "crap." "Mush Mouth," a character with an usual way of speaking, is teased.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.