DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Fat Albert

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw


    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 2004

    U.S. Rating: PG
    Canadian Rating: G

    Film Length: 93 minutes
    Genre: Comedy

    Aspect Ratio:[*] Side B: 2.35:1[*] Side A: 1.33:1
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $29.98

    Release Date: March 22, 2005.

    Entertainment Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Kenan Thompson (Fat Albert), Kyla Pratt (Doris), Shedrack Anderson III (Rudy), Jermaine Williams (Mushmouth), Keith Robinson (Bill), Alphonso McAuley (Bucky), Aaron Frazier (Old Weird Harold), Marques Houston (Dumb Donald), Dania Ramirez (Lauri), Omari Grandberry (Reggie), Bill Cosby (Himself)

    Directed by: Joel Zwick
    Written by: Bill Cosby & Charles Kipps

    Hey! Hey! Hey! Christmas Day.

    Fox has a DVD for you: Fat Albert! Released just this past Christmas Day, Fat Albert has found its way to DVD with a little bundle of extras. This real-life interpretation mixes a little bit of cartoon as it reaches out to a new generation of fans sending a positive message for those children who need encouragement.

    The story begins with Doris, a young high school girl who really believes she is having trouble with getting friends. Her tears drop on the TV while she watches a Fat Albert cartoon. Fat Albert and his junkyard gang feel her tears and feel the need to reach out to the girl by coming through the TV into her living room!

    After she gets over her disbelief of cartoon characters turning into real people, she denies that she has any problem and wants Fat Albert and his gang to go back to where they came from. Fat Albert insists this isn’t happening until they find her some friends.

    Fat Albert and his gang are in for a shock of reality too. Since this movie is based on a 1970’s cartoon, these guys are now in the present day so they must adapt to new gadgets "ways" of the future. Many of them wish to stay in this new time period, but there is an ever-present reality that they are not meant for this new world – and it just might lead to their disintegration from existence entirely. Now that they know this, the race is on to find Doris friends without putting their personal interests first.

    This movie was completely different than what I thought it would be. First of all, fans that grew up with the cartoons should not be looking at this film as a direct interpretation of what they remembered. You will be disappointed if you are. This is a modern-day, hip hop tale of how Fat Albert and his band saves the day. What is included is new hip hop music, some rapping by Albert, unbelievable co-ordinated dance moves by Mushmouth, Bill, Bucky, Rudy, Old Weird Harold, and Dumb Donald (unbelievable as in: yeah, right). These boys adapt to the future pretty quickly for only being here no more than two days.

    But it’s entertainment for the youth, right?

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Fat Albert’s final message was too clear. Aside from the movie being distracted in a subplot about these boys being in the future, I don’t feel the movie taught anything. Albert more or less seemed as a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage” when it came to fixing Doris’s problem. And those moments seemed brief too. Rather, Fat Albert gathered a lot of attention for himself and the gang from the friends whom Doris was feeling isolated from. They were positioning themselves from being uncool to totally cool.

    I’ll let you be the judge and I know children will get a kick out of many funny moments in the movie. They’re gonna have a good time.

    This DVD is packaged in a keep case with a cardboard slip around it. There is no insert, and unfortunately this disc has forced trailers.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This disc has the movie presented in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. I wasn’t excited about the video at all. For such a new movie, it was pretty “blah” actually. I won’t say that it was objectionable to watch, but on a large screen the image seems softer than usual. There are a small amount of compression artefacts seen around edges of moving objects and in background images. Lack of real detail is one problem with this disc so I was disappointed at this rather flat-looking image.

    Another issue I have is how the colour was cranked up a few notches on the clothes of Fat Albert and his gang. I know they did come out of a cartoon so the intention was to mimic that colour a bit, but Fat Albert’s sweater glows so red you can’t see any detail on it. It wasn’t until they became “bleached” that you can actually see the threads that make up his sweater. The odd colouring doesn’t stop there because there are a few outdoor scenes that look unnaturally pale; a scene such as when they are playing in the park. I cannot believe this would be an artistic choice at all. It just doesn’t look right.

    The rest of the film looks pretty good. I always tend to focus on the bad so you can assume the rest of the movie is good, right? Well, if you didn’t assume that, I will tell you it is. The rest of the movie look acceptable in terms of colour, white levels, and black levels. Edge enhancement isn’t a problem on this disc.

    A bit of an annoyance: the Pan and Scan version of the film is on Side A of the DVD (the one that’s exposed when opening the DVD for the first time) and the widescreen version is on Side B). I, of course, recommend the widescreen version.

    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is a very basic sound mix for a movie. The front soundstage is utilized for the sound effects here and there. The left and right channels seem very “apart” from each other and the center speaker when sound effects are used. There doesn’t seem to be much effort at all in creating a convincing environment while using the three front speakers. A sound here and a sound there is all we get. They are very speaker-specific. The only thing that is common in all five channels of this Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is the music. The hip hop music is left intact as a stereo recording across LC and RC with phantom imaging for the rapping and beat. This is occasionally pulled to the rear channels for a little more engagement, such as the scene when Albert and his gang break out in their dance routine. Bass is energized in left and right channels with what seems like a slight boost in level from the norm. Bass from the hip hop music is ever so slightly present in the LFE too for that extra bit of punch – but my main channel subwoofers entirely drowned it out. And be careful when Albert walks, sometimes he can make a little bit of a rumble too.


    On both sides of the DVD, the special features menu gives us a commentary from Director Joel Zwick and Producer John Davis. These two guys go over scene by scene in detail with their relations to the actors to why things were done they way they were. There is never a quiet moment with these two, which is good if you want to make your time worthwhile.

    On this DVD-10 disc, the two extended scenes that total about a minute together are located on Side B. They are finished scenes and enhanced for widescreen. These were probably cut at the last moment. I don’t think it could have harmed to leave these in, although I can see they were cut just to move things along in each of these scenes.

    Side A of this disc has a ten-minute featurette called Fat Albert: Behind the Band. This is not a behind the scenes compilation, but a “mockumentary” of the fictional Fat Albert band played by the stars of the film.

    The theatrical trailer is on this disc and is disappointingly not enhanced for widescreen TVs. It also appears to be in 1.85:1 widescreen rather than 2.35:1.

    Two previews are included on this disc: one for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown coming in 2006, Rebound which should be here by the summer and the direct to video The Sandlot 2 (and it has HORRIBLE picture quality).


    This interpretation of Fat Albert for the new generation will be entertaining for children but less so for adults who grew up with the cartoons. Fat Albert’s focus is still on the young crowd just where it should be. Thus, the movie did what it needed to in order to fit in with today’s generation. While I wish the quality of the picture was a little better, Fat Albert will still teach his lesson or two.

    Michael Osadciw
  2. Rex.G

    Rex.G Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 8, 2004
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    Can't wait to miss this one!
  3. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

    May 23, 1999
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    Sheesh, [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] 1/2 stars for video on a new release, I'll use Peter Grimes line, can't wait to miss this one!
  4. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw
    Three and a half stars is not uncommon for a new video release. Plus, lately I've been a little less forgiving of artefacts and will continue to be so once I go HDMI in less than two weeks. If you haven't gone HDMI yet, I STRONGLY advise anyone to do so - the differences are striking as the stages of D/A and A/D are eliminated.

  5. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

    Aug 28, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Football legend Reggie White saw Fat Albert with his family on Christmas day, and died in his sleep that night at the age of 43. I heard that and will now forever tie the two events together.

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