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Fat Albert


Genre: Retro-cartoon characters in the real world

Opens: Now playing

The pitch: Fat Albert (Kenan Thompson) and the rest of the Cosby Kids jump out of their cartoon show into the real world to help Doris (Kyla Pratt), a lonely girl whose grandfather has died. Determined to help her make friends, Fat Albert and the gang follow her to school where their outdated language and clothes baffle today's modern youth.

Fashion statements: The flesh-and-blood cartoon characters sport the same colorful gear as in the cartoon, including Mushmouth's rainbow suspenders and Rudy's magenta and purple outfit topped with an orange, oversized floppy cap. They get clowned at first, but later one of Doris' classmates cops Rudy's style.

Flesh factor: In the real world, Dumb Donald removes his face-covering knit cap to reveal ... his face. Later, the ink of Bucky's pants wipe away to reveal his bum. But these guys are a modest bunch, so the gang carefully surrounds Bucky to prevent anyone from seeing his assets.

Cameos: Joel Madden of pop-punk group Good Charlotte plays a student in Doris' class. Or maybe it was Benji Madden, his twin brother -- it's whichever one has the mohawk. Farnsworth Bentley, the umbrella-toting haberdasher, appears as -- what else? -- a clothing salesman in the big and tall department.

Creative casting: To anyone over 13, the cast is full of nobodies, except maybe "Saturday Night Live's" Kenan Thompson. But this lineup features a range of kids' pop culture icons, including Kyla Pratt of "The Proud Family," Omari Grandberry formerly lead singer of B2K, and Raven-Symone of "That's So Raven."

Better than the TV show?: It stays true to the show's positive, problem-solving messages. At first, the gang's polite, enthusiastic nature seems dated -- if not hokey -- but the respect they show others is a timeless lesson. Both the show and the film are aimed squarely at tweens to teach them about believing in themselves and trusting others. Nostalgic adults who expect "The Brady Bunch Movie" will be disappointed by the same things that will thrill parents: The movie has clean language, no sexual innuendo, and nothing more than silly slapstick violence.

The bottom line: Hey, hey, hey! We're gonna have a good time!

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