Movie Review: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)
“It’s a huge great bloody movie, sweetie!”
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks
Synopsis: Eddie and Patsy go on the run when Eddie is suspected of killing Kate Moss.
The eagerly awaited transition to the big screen of ageing party girls Eddie Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) four years after their last TV appearance brings to mind just one burning question. Why? The long-running TV series was a remarkable model of consistency in terms of the quality of its material; its standards rarely – if ever – slipped from a peak which held us in its thrall as we watched the women’s exploits with a kind of queasy fascination and sneaking admiration. The film, however, is a horrible parade of gossip magazine celebrities and models sandwiched between a threadbare plot and wan jokes that feel like the ghosts of rejected ideas from the last TV show.
Despite surrounding herself with the trappings of a lavish lifestyle, self-styled PR guru Eddie has fallen on hard times. Her bank account is as empty as her champagne chillers, and she doesn’t even have enough ‘hand-money,’ as Patsy calls it, to pay for a cab. In the internet age, she is nothing more than a gaudy anachronism, an irrelevance whose only client is ageing Scottish pop kitten Lulu. So, when she learns that supermodel Kate Moss has dumped her PR agency, Eddie is understandably keen to sign her up. Unfortunately, her over-zealous efforts result in the world mistakenly believing that Eddie is responsible for the model’s drowning, and so she and Patsy must flee to the South of France to evade the law and snare a wealthy old flame of Patsy’s who can keep them in the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed.
It’s likely that, for those not steeped in the shallow world of celebrity culture, many of the ‘famous’ faces appearing between more established names like Christopher Biggins and Joan Collins will mean nothing, which is something of a fatal flaw seeing as how Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie sees their mere presence as the source of a good chunk of its entertainment value. Likewise, regulars from the TV series, such as Julia Sawalha (relegated to the status of frumpy mum with the introduction of her mixed-race teenage daughter), Jane Horrocks and June Whitfield seem to serve little purpose other than to give those familiar with their past contributions a warm glow of recognition. Saunders and Lumley wear their characters like a second skin, and are able to wring a few thin laughs from even such risible material, with Lumley in particular demonstrating that she’s lost none of that comic genius which lay undiscovered for most of her screen career, but even that’s not enough to overcome the immense – but familiar, it has to be said – disappointment at seeing such an iconic comedy series devalued in such a haphazard fashion. You almost find yourself hoping Saunders writes another one just to reassure us that Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is just a horrible, ill-conceived blip – but not quite daring to wish for it in case the opposite is true.
(Reviewed 8th July 2016)