Perhaps Fat Albert was panned because critics expected to see Malcolm X or a Spike Lee movie about racial awareness, forgetting that it is the live version of a Saturday morning cartoon.
This family comedy is very much like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: entertaining, predictable, enjoyable, and eminently forgettable. Like the cereal you ate while watching the original cartoon, it is much too sweet and definitely has no nutritional value and there is nothing wrong with that from time to time.
Perhaps Fat Albert was dismissed because it has nothing to do with the Bill Cosby comedy routines and much more to do with the Saturday morning cartoon series.
As adaptations from original cartoon series go, Fat Albert is not as good as The Flintstones but much better than Scooby Doo (though that is not saying much). Fact is, it works. Yes, the premise is contrived -a young girl cries while watching the Cosby Kids cartoon and Fat Albert and the Gang come to life to help her solve her problem. Yes, the problem is presented and treated as minor and the solution is preachy and has nothing to do with similar real life situations, but so was the original animated version.
Bill Cosby may have a PhD in education but he never was big on being subtle (hence the furor he causes when he discusses Black Americans) and this movie is not subtle.
Even the product tie-in, a plug for the divda (DVD) of the original Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, is obvious and clear. Still, willing suspension of disbelief and all, especially necessary considering only one character realizes who the big guy who keeps saying hey hey hey and his friends really are, this is a fun little movie.
There are the obligatory moments where Fat Albert, Mushmouth, Old Weird Harold, Dumb Donald feel out of place in modern society and are baffled with recent inventions but there is also the intelligent decision to have life in the cartoon junkyard continue without them, leaving Russell to fend off the other gang for a while.
The only unfortunate bit is that aside from the buck buck scene you do not get enough references and movie versions of the original Bill Cosby stand-up comedy funny stories about growing up in Philadelphia with Albert and the gang such as 9th Street Bridge.
Kids will enjoy this movie as much as Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms, adults will have the same guilty pleasure