Directed by Mandie Fletcher
Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks and a sackful of cameos
Released on 1st July 2016
We need a good laugh at the moment. Even more, we need one that comes from characters we know and trust. So Fox Searchlight couldn’t have timed the release of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie more perfectly, even there’s no way they could have known that at the time.
But it also arrived with large question marks hovering over it. Everybody wanted it to be good, but the worry was that it would go the same way as so many TV series that made the move to the big screen and flopped. The good news is that, almost 25 years since Wheel’s On Fire heralded its arrival, Ab Fab is as grotesque, outrageous and hilarious as ever.
Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) is struggling in just about every way. The money is running out – none of her credit cards are working and the Bolly fridge is empty – and she can’t cope with PR 2016 style, all do-it-yourself social media. Somehow she’s managed to hold on to her only two clients, Lulu and Emma Bunton (there’s cameos from both) and then the chance to be Kate Moss’s PR comes up. Except that when she gets close to La Moss, the supermodel ends up falling in the Thames and the media turns on Eddie. She and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) have to come up with a plan – and that plan is to escape to the Riviera.
Adapting a well-loved TV comedy for the big screen is always fraught with danger and, in truth, there’s a 40 minute story here that’s been extended to fill an hour and a half. As plots go, it’s as skinny as a supermodel, and it’s padded out with around 60 celebrity cameos, some playing themselves, others in actual roles. But what’s important here isn’t so much the story, but whether or not it’s true to the spirit of the original. And it is. Totally. Yes, it does feel like it’s re-running some of the most famous antics that the two harridans get up to – falling out of the car drunk etc – but that familiarity is all part of it. There’s a genuine sense of affection for the series and the characters, it hasn’t trampled on our memories and the audience gets what it wants. More of the same.
The entire TV cast is back together again. The gloriously empty headed Bubble (Jane Horrocks, sporting some monumentally silly costumes as only she can), the straight laced Saffy (Julia Sawalha), the astute Mrs Monsoon, Eddie’s mum (June Whitfield, who celebrated her 90th birthday while the film was being made) and the 100% obnoxious Magda (Kathy Burke). But, despite them and all those cameos, the whole thing belongs to Saunders and Lumley. Lumley in particular, who is more of a scene stealer than ever. Her Patsy relishes modern technology, scrolling Tinder – “had him”, “had him” – and is a predatory cougar who reminds Jon Hamm of how his lost his virginity. Just don’t ask how she keeps what she believes to be her youthful looks. If you see the film, you’ll find out early on. As a double act, Eddie and Patsy are priceless, their efforts at running in their heels even worse than ever and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll ever grow up now.
And we wouldn’t want them to. They’ll always be outrageous, embarrassing, shameless and totally OTT, but that’s the way we like them. They’re great creations, the two actresses deliver and they’re highly entertaining. The film might not be absolutely fabulous, but Eddie and Patsy most certainly are. Cheers, sweetie!
Absolutely Fabulous:The Movie is released on Friday, 1 July.