Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, 2016.
Directed by Mandie Fletcher.
Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, Celia Imrie and June Whitfield.
Edina and Patsy are still oozing glitz and glamor, living the high life they are accustomed to; shopping, drinking and clubbing their way around London’s trendiest hot-spots. Blamed for a major incident at an uber fashionable launch party, they become entangled in a media storm and are relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi. Fleeing penniless to the glamorous playground of the super-rich, the French Riviera, they hatch a plan to make their escape permanent and live the high life forever more!
Making the move from beloved TV sitcom to the big screen is always going to be a risk. Cinemagoers have seen the dizzy heights of The Inbetweeners and Alan Partridge translate easily but they are exceptions to the rule. Usually you find the characters you love are now unfunny, over the top and end up as a caricature of themselves.
Whilst Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie doesn’t reach the comedy genius of those mentioned, its translation to the big screen does come with a ton of laughs and a good dose of satire. Edina and Patsy are the same loveable messes as they were 24 years ago. PR is now a non-entity and Edina still thinks Kate Moss rules the world. After a debacle at a fancy fashion party, everyone thinks Edina has killed Kate Moss and she’s public enemy number one. Where the dull Zoolander 2 failed to do much satirising of the fashion industry at all, here with two drunken women and more cameos then you can shake a stick at, we finally get a good laugh at the absurdity of the fashion world. Too many cameos usually spell disaster for a film but for Ab Fab it works and adds to the absurdity of it all.
Joanna Lumley as Patsy is hilarious from start to finish. She steals every scene that she’s in and it is her performance that makes the film work. A great opener sees Patsy self-injecting Botox and having withdrawal when she realises the champagnes gone. A tremendous actress in all senses, Lumley’s Patsy is physically hilarious as well as dripping with wit and venom. Jennifer Saunders can always be relied onto for a few laughs and whilst she will always be in Lumley’s shadow as an actress, her script has moments of excellence.
Ab Fab is split into three distinct parts. The first sets everything up and reintroduces us to our beloved characters, the second is the aftermath of Edina’s faux pas and the third involves the two of them escaping to France. This is where the humour starts to dwindle. Except for getting to see Joanna Lumley in drag (which consists of a fake moustache and hair tied back) there isn’t much substance to the final part of the film and it starts to feel like it is dragging and limping to the finish line. The film is strongest when the characters are in familiar settings and the comedy is working on a higher level. When Patsy and Edina head to France it feels like it has been thrown in because they needed to make an ending.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie isn’t a perfect send off for these two iconic characters but it delivers a good bunch of laughs and a terrific performance from Lumley.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter