Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Now here is a movie for which the words "good-hearted" come straight into mind. It takes the characters of Bill Cosby's "Fat Albert" TV cartoon show from the 1970s, and sends them popping magically out of the TV screen and into the life of a teenage girl -- where, hey-hey-hey, they give her advice that has always worked for them in Toonland. It's ingenious in the way it shows the cartoon characters amazed by the real world (hey-hey-hey, they learn from a poster in a video store that they're on a "de-ved," or however you say "DVD"). But in a season where the standards have been set for animated entertainment by "The Polar Express" and "The Incredibles," I don't think "Fat Albert" is up to speed; in its meandering, low-key way, it seems destined more for a future on de-ved, returning to the video world where the characters say they feel more at home.
Kyla Pratt plays Doris, a high school student who is pretty and smart but lacks self-confidence and feels left out of things. There's a big party tonight (a rich kid's father is blocking off the street) but she's not invited. Oh, she was kinda included in an invitation to her popular foster sister Lauri (Dania Ramirez), but that's not the same thing.
Doris comes home, turns on the TV and sheds a single tear, which falls onto the TV screen and creates a portal in space, time and reality. On the "Fat Albert" TV show, in a Philadelphia junkyard, the characters see this glistening sphere floating in mid-air, take a reckless chance by jumping through it, and find themselves in Doris' living room.
Many movies have inserted cartoon characters into the real world, but usually while still representing them as cartoons, as in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Space Jam" and "Garfield: The Movie." In "Fat Albert," the toons become real humans, played by actors who look amazingly like their TV counterparts, including Kenan Thompson of "Saturday Night Live," who wears a padded costume that makes him look not like an actual fat kid, but like a cartoon fat kid who is round in all the right places and has a belt around the equator that looks drawn on. (In a poignant sequence at the very end of the film, we discover that the toons also look like Bill Cosby's real-life childhood friends, who inspired "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.")