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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

2016-09-23 08:03
 

What it's about:

Edina and Patsy are still oozing glitz and glamour. Living the high life, they’re 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!

What we thought:

Absolutely Fabulous is well known for its no-holds-barred shenanigans, vapid personalities and binge-anything, with its leading women Edina and Patsy living the high life at the cost of everyone around them. This comedy was a hit in the 90s and received various awards, including multiple BAFTAs and an international Emmy, for its debauchery and self-involved hilarity. Unfortunately, the style has not aged well into the new century, and the lack of laughing tracks could not make it into a silver screen hit.

Edina (Jennifer Saunders) has hit rock bottom in her PR career and her money can no longer support her lavish lifestyle. When Patsy (Joanna Lumley) tells her a famous model is on the lookout for a new PR, Edina makes her way to a fashion show to revive her career. This is derailed after an accident lands the celebrity in the Thames, with Eddie taking the blame. The pair escape paparazzo and the law to the playground of the rich – the French Riviera.

It is quite a feat for a TV show to manage to get so many of their original cast together for a movie version, and although it took Saunders years to finally finish the script (with lots of threats and bets from Lumley), the final product feels just like the original. So much so, in fact, that it felt more like a very long episode of a TV show instead of a movie. A sitcom normally has very little character development and focuses more on situational comedy, but in a film you would like some sort of resolution on whether or not a character learned from their experience and has matured to some extent. Patsy and Eddie seemed more like they were cryogenically frozen, along with their wit, and then brought out to play in a world that has moved on without them, and they refuse to get with the times. And the audience will be very aware of this mismatch.

It also felt like they tried to hide their age with a string of cameos, even if they’re still relevant or not. The focus on Kate Moss as an international idol shows their age even more, especially when Kate Moss hasn’t been relevant in years. It felt like whenever they made a quip they’re waiting for a laugh track to queue them for the next line, which is odd because both Lumley and Saunders have lots of experience on the big screen as well as the little one. The two veterans might have paved the way for women in comedy, but actresses and comedians like Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer and Rebel Wilson are the current reigning queens of the female-driven comedy industry, and Saunders and Lumley have had their time.

Absolutely Fabulous delivered on what the fans want, but not really on what a modern movie audience wants. The movie pulls on the nostalgia strings that will pull the older crowds, but it won’t discover a new audience amongst the younger generation. No amount of hairspray, champagne or awkward interactions with famous people could reboot this oldie into a goldie. Sorry darlings.


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