I have seen several episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, and while I was never a “fan”, there were enjoyable. But I remember seeing the trailer for the Ab Fab movie and cringing at the fawning over celebrities and models and already wondering if it was going to jump the shark like many TV to film adaptations. Let’s find out.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie stars Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and June Whitfield and is directed by Mandie Fletcher. The film follows the ever alcoholic, drug-abusing narcissists Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Lumley) who have to flee to the south of France after Edina accidently kills Kate Moss.
We’ll start with what works, Joanna Lumley. She is by far the best thing in the film, whether she’s showing off for the paparazzi, getting caught up in a fashion runway or just walking down the road with a bottle of champagne in her hand, Lumley commands the screen every time she is on and plays Patsy as a wonderfully vain and pampered waste. Kathy Burke too, despite having only a few short minutes in the film as a ball-busting, loudmouth reporter has some great lines. And that’s really it. Sure there were some good lines here and there that made me laugh, but apart from Lumley and Burke, it’s really quite dreary.
Since Edina is a PR agent, celebrities would obviously be involved in some way with the production. The film takes a leaf out of Zoolander 2‘s book and floods the screen with as many famous faces as it can. When asked had he seen Jaws 4, Michael Caine famously said, “No, but I’ve seen the house it bought.” That’s what Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie feels like, people like Jon Hamm, Stella McCartney, Emma Bunton and Lulu are just turning up to be flattered by the main stars and then pick up a cheque. It’s not just fashion designers and models that turn up either. The film is full of actual actors like Robert Webb, Rebel Wilson and Martin Gatiss, and most are terrible in this. Webb and Gatiss are both funny people but are sadly given nothing to use.
The script, while it starts funny loses its mark around the half hour point. As always, there are some great one liners, but after that mark it descends into a weird sort of slapstick. The script also takes another note from Zoolander 2 by having several jokes aimed at transgender characters. It’s demeaning and ends up just becoming examples of “you’re transgender, that’s different from the rest of us so let’s laugh at you for a bit”. The off-colour jokes end up making the majority of the script about part way through and definitely in my screening there were moments when one of those jokes would come up and the whole cinema was silent.
Despite being only 91 minutes long, there are moments when the film feels a bit baggy. There are subplots about Eddie’s book deal and several dream sequences where Eddie and Patsy imagine that they are partying away the rest of their days surrounded by fashion celebrities. The film sets up the massive “on-the-run” type story but is simply resolved in the last two minutes of the film so that we can have a big happy ending.
In the end, this might be one for the super-fans of Ab Fab. If all you’re wanting to see is Eddie and Patsy together again, getting drunk and going on crazy adventures that you’ll have fun. For the rest, it might be one to check the trailer first before you decide whether to watch it.
Score: 5/10 Absolutely medicore.