Absolutely Fabulous The Movie - This Movie Doesn't Absolutely Rock, Isn't Quite Fabulous Enough
Dir: Mandie Fletcher
Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Kate Moss, A Whole Bunch Of Other People You’re Supposed To Recognise
There are two things to remember here. AbFab has been with us for over twenty years and in that time it has gone from cutting the edge of the zeitgeist to being an occasional (but welcome) reminder of same. The other thing to remember is – it wasn’t always all that good. Despite capturing the imagination of the world when it began – and both highlighting and shepherding in the dominance of modern fashion in pop culture – it was often a hit and miss affair. Yes, we all loved Saunders’ creation of Edina and Patsy (especially New Avenger Patsy – who owns this), but often the shows themselves could be as much miss as hit. Full of odd flashbacks and fantasy asides, repeated excess and little to do with story, even if there was a lot of character on display. In short, Saunders was never a writer big on plot, if certainly one big on laughs and “moments.”
So to expect her to expand to the longer format, and a live audience laugh-free zone, is a big ask. To the woman’s credit, she still knows how to mine a laugh. And AbFabTM (as we’re all calling it) will make you laugh. But it may also make you recognise the gaps between said laughter.
What we have is a lovely concept – whilst trying to lure Kate Moss as her new client, PR guru Edina accidentally kills her. Goes on the run with her lifelong stalwart Patsy to the South of France. That’s about the bare bones of it, and Saunders, the writer, seeks to add little flesh to those bare bones (Patsy again!) but knows how to move from one sketchy moment to another.
A lot of it works, some of it doesn’t – yes, Jane Horrocks, you were right – you should have said no to the Bubble resurrection. The Thelma and Louise almost-ending adds a touch of humanity previously missing from the characters; the genuine ending, with its clear nod to Some Like It Hot, reminds us, and Ms. Saunders, you’re clearly not in the same league missus. (Then again, "Nobody's perfect.")
Then there are the cameos. Around 60 of them apparently. Admittedly this is nothing new in terms of the series – even the incorruptible Mark Kermode showed up once on the TV show (no offence sweetie!) But here it’s too many and too little – most of these people don’t know how to deliver a line – and boy, are you aware of it.
Overall, AbFabTM paints itself into a peculiar corner. They’ve been with us so long, and delivered so many smiles, that, even though you’re aware they’re not fully up to snuff here – you still kind of want them to win. Hard to buy that kind of love, one which still makes you smile. Even laugh on a few occasions. (At the screening we were at, someone very audibly popped a bottle of Bolly as the BBFC certificate came up – and the rest of the audience loudly cheered them on. That’s the kind of affection we’re talking about.)
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