REVIEW: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

August 1, 2016

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“…there is enough good material here for a fine TV episode…”
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REVIEW: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Julian Wood
Year: 2016
Rating: M
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Cast:

Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks

Distributor: Fox
Released: August 4
Running Time: 91 minutes
Worth: $11.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…there is enough good material here for a fine TV episode…

Let’s be honest, there are really only two ways that you can write about this movie. Either, you can bathe in the warm glow of its great silliness and celebrate the fine comedy actors and the cameo-studded cast. Or, you can fess up and tell people that it is also very, er, thin. In fashion, thin is good. In script writing, not so much.

The TV series on which this is based was a huge cult success in the nineties, and deservedly so. The writing was sharp and the satire on the vapid know-nothings of the fashion and PR world was sharp and timely. More importantly, the characters were so well realised. Jennifer Saunders (who wrote this movie version, incidentally) was wonderful as the ditzy and completely un-grown up parent whose mawkish, ill-judged attempts to recover ground with her knowing daughter, Saffie (the perfectly-cast Julie Sawalha, who is back in the role here) were uncomfortably spot-on. Of course, Joanna Lumley stole the show as the frightful Patsy, a coke-powered cougar with a sneer the size of Harrods’ front window.

All the above is in place here, and, as noted, there are cameos by the champagne bucket load. Everyone pops up at one point, all having jolly good fun against the backdrop of London as a glamour capital. The plot is stretched like a botoxed facelift. Eddy thinks she is going to rescue her PR career by representing Kate Moss. When a terrible drunken mishap happens, Eddy and Pats have to go on the run. Of course, they go to the poshest part of the south of France. That’s about it, really.

The locations are absolutely splendid, and that is both part of the visual appeal as well as the entry point for more satire on the dodgy and partially-embalmed super rich. The film also deals with the fashion scene, and this is an excuse for some excruciating fashion disasters as well as well-placed cameos for various contemporary designers. There is fun to be had in all this. There are even a couple of really fine gags, but they are so strung out that it is a long time between drinks. Basically, they have trouble linking the set pieces in an engaging way, but that could also be said of most Hollywood comedies. Comedy is hard, perhaps the hardest of all. Still, that is the risk. Really there is enough good material here for a fine TV episode. In a way, there is almost a sense of loss or regret when the material doesn’t quite live up to its promise. After all, one would have loved to say that this is absolutely fabulous, darling.

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