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The story follows around a lonely teenage girl named Doris whose foster sister, Lauri, is more popular than her and whose grandfather died before the events of the movie. After having another bad day, she tunes into Fat Albert and in the middle of one of their re-runs, she starts crying, causing a tear to hit the remote. This opens a portal between the cartoon world and the real world. Fat Albert notices this and, compelled to help her, enters the real world through the TV; soon, the gang follows. This causes all the characters to change from animated to real.
During the course of the film, Fat Albert and the others decide that they like the real world a lot better and discover the modern world of North Philadelphia as well as help Doris make some friends despite her denial.
- Alpha Bitch: Heather and her friends (the ones who invite Fat Albert and the gang to the party)
- As Himself: See Special Guest for more details.
- The Bully: Reggie Also, the guy back in the cartoon world who bullies Russel and wants to take over the junkyard
- The Conscience: Bill (the character) fills in for most of the movie as he tries to warn Fat Albert that they are fading away, but Fat Albert doesn't listen until the real Bill Cosby tells him. "Hey Hey Hey! Friends don't let friends fade away!"
- Dark Reprise: "Na, na, na, gonna have a bad time..."
- Did Not Do the Research: TV Land never had Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on their schedule (not even when they showed programs like Star Trek the Animated Series in 2003), nor do they ever cut away for major news events.
- Epic Race: There was a race between Reggie and Fat Albert (which Fat Albert won) but the race near the end takes place when Doris, due to Lauri's involvement on account of Fat Albert's suggestion was made anchor in the track race and wins.
- A Friend in Need: That's how the Junkyard gang sees Doris, so they attempt to get her some friends, unfortunately though one of them is a cheerleader named Heather, who then invites them to her party.
- Lampshade Hanging: Part of the film's humor centers around the fact that they are aware that they are cartoons, including the can-opener rhythm scene
- Live Action Adaptation
- Loser Protagonist: Invoked by Doris, since she thinks she is a loser, lowering her self-esteem.
- Never Bareheaded: Dumb Donald explains that he always wears his hat because the animators didn't give him a face. He is forced to remove his hat and discovers that he does have a face. When Albert's friends return from the real world, Donald has to put his hat back on because, in their fictional world, he indeed has no face.
- Papa Wolf: Fat Albert to Doris at the party, standing up to Reggie: "Stay away from her, or you'll have to deal with me."
- Parental Abandonment: We never see Doris and Lauri's parents in the movie, although we do see a note on the fridge at the beginning which says that her dad was on a business trip. All we know from the mom is that she'll be home soon. Of course, she never appears, as with the dad. Also, Doris's grandfather had passed away.
- Race Against the Clock: Once the gang find out that their colors are fading away into celluloid dust (also under Cosby's warning)
- Special Guest: Bill Cosby (the writer of not only the film but the series) appears in the movie when Fat Albert visits his house to ask for advice. He warns him that if he doesn't get back to the TV, he will turn to celluloid dust.
- Strangers in a Strange School: Kind of invoked in the scene where Fat Albert and the gang visit Doris's school since they are real people, but they are cartoons that traveled to the real world. Plus they are from a different era, demonstrated when everyone is instructed to turn on their laptops, the gang looks at the devices strangely since they do not have that sort of technology in the show.
- Token White: Reggie's right-hand henchman, Arthur seems to be one of the few only white characters in the movie, besides Derek, the boy who befriends Rudy and copies his clothing style and a few others.
- The Unintelligible: Mushmouth, especially since they used Weird Harold as his translator.
- However, when Mushmouth ends up in the real world, he tries to sound out the word "balloon" and learns how to say it properly from a little girl. Seconds later, he can speak just fine- which indicates he's losing his special characteristics. Mushmouth can't wait to show his friends how well he can speak when he goes back to the cartoon world. Unfortunately for him, his speech immediately reverts back to a mess of babbles... to which he replies,
- Welcome to The Real World: The plot of the movie.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: A lot of critics, especially Rotten Tomatoes, have gone overboard with negative reviews. The idea here was to leave the audience with a heartwarming message at the end, not make a terrible movie... and judging from that final scene... they did just fine.