Upon first inspection, Fat Albert is just the latest film to dust off an old TV show and nakedly capitalize on its status as a known commodity, regardless of whether there's a timeliness or public hunger for it. Many things about Fat Albert can be dismissed on this superficial level, and probably should be. But as it becomes clear that the film is a eulogy for Albert Robertson, Bill Cosby's childhood friend and source of inspiration for the character, it achieves more poignancy than your typical vanilla family comedy. Borrowing the basic fish-out-of-water structure from The Brady Bunch Movie, the film proceeds through a series of G-rated episodes in which the characters learn essential truths about themselves and spread good vibes. Fat Albert walks that fine line between embracing the old character stereotypes, quite backward by today's standards, and exploding them. Especially with the character of Mushmouth, who shrugs off his pre-Ebonics babble in favor of proper English, the film sends the message that cartoon characters are caricatures, while real people should never be subjected to the same prejudices. To call Fat Albert a "message movie" is obviously too generous, but to harp on its shortcomings would seem too particular. It's sweet, but it's not nearly hip enough to hold any value for fans of the original show. The actors, led by Kenan Thompson, don't stand out beyond looking remarkably like the real-world people they're playing, who make a guest appearance near the end. Having also directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Joel Zwick seems to be drawn to projects with the word "fat" in the title.