Absolutely Fabulous (2016)
D: Mandi Fletcher. DP: Chris Goodger. W: Jennifer Saunders. Starring: Jennifer Saunders/Joanna Lumley/Julia Sawalha/Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness/Jane Horrocks/Robert Webb/Chris Colfer/Celie Imrie/Mark Gatniss.
A beloved British television series has now hit the big screens as Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley return as Edina and Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. Having not seen a lot of the series, I went into this screening knowing I was probably the abnormal viewer. However, just knowing the basic characters and tropes of the humor I had no problem picking up what has become iconic about female drive Ab Fab.
In the film we find Edina lamenting her current status on the D-list of the PR world. An unsuccessful meeting about a potential book produces a desperation in vodka/champagne drinking Edina that she goes a bit mad. Especially when told by fashion editor best friend Pasty that the iconic Kate Moss needs a new publicist. Mayhem ensues as Moss is accidentally pushed or maybe falls into the Thames at a party. Edina and Patsy then scheme to flee London for Cannes and make money the old fashioned way, through marriage.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
has a few strengths. Saunders and Lumley have great chemistry and physicality with their humor that still works. Thankfully the film is not littered with too many cameos, just enough to get the context of Edina’s work. The best might be Stella McCartney or even the appearance of a brick from her own, the first thing Edina has ever been given by the designer. The script was penned by Saunders alone despite previously sharing writing credits with Dawn French and Sue Perkins on the early 1990s series. It loses its steam quickly and cannot maintain the quick flash and pizazz of its editing.
Unfortunately for Saunders and company the best laughs were all in the trailers. There is a sweet moment where disgruntled daughter Saffy (Julie Sawalha) sings in a gay club. In fact, it is the sweeter familial driven moments that are the best part of the film. In their sixties and not slowing down Patsy and Edina party like they are very young and messy and ridiculous. Their friendship remains to be both their redemption and their downfall. But it is Edina’s vocal struggle with aging, her body image and worth that comes across as the best part of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. Her need for acceptance and denial about aging are both the best bits of comedy and drama. When the pair walk out onto a terrace to find all the aged men hitting on very young woman, it is societal ageism at its finest. In those moments you wonder what this film really could have been, darling!