Among the few forces that can turn animated characters into live?action figures, the cross-promoted DVD release of the original, retro cartoon is, apparently, the most potent. But don’t discount the power of one girl’s tears. In the padded-out kiddie feature Fat Albert, Doris (Kyla Pratt) has a bad case of low self-esteem, and the plop of a tear on her TV remote reconstitutes the gang who used to bop to the bass gurgle of Albert’s ”Hey hey hey!” in the popular late-’70s and early-’80s cartoons based on characters invented by Bill Cosby.
Doris is blue, but Fat Albert (an amiable Kenan Thompson) is a vision in a red sweater, wriggling through the screen of her TV set and landing with a fleshy thud to teach Doris the benefits of self-confidence. The scattered cultural time-warp jokes are bright (the Cosby Kids don’t know from DVDs), but the sermonizing on behalf of good clean fun and hard old effort (Cosby co-wrote the script) is as faded as Big Al’s sweater after too many days on earth.