By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is a bit of nostalgia for you all, well that is if you’re over a certain age perhaps? Remember that 90s sitcom Absolutely Fabulous? Well now it has a movie too.
All the regulars return including Jennifer Saunders (also on writing duties), Joanne Lumley (with a few cigarettes in tow) and Julia Sawalha (still as reluctant as ever).
With a packed audience at the Phoenix Leicester, everyone was raring to go. I just hoped it captured the sitcoms comedy and originality…
Edina (Jennifer Saunders), Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and the gang are back with a feature length film as the hopeless duo hit a skid in their careers. They need to recruit celebrities for their PR company and they need to do it fast. Their credit cards have been declined and their house is on the verge of being repossessed. The protagonists’ bright idea is to acquire Kate Moss for their roster but sadly they attract the wrong kind of media and police attention as they accidentally knock Kate into the River Thames. This means Edina and Patsy must hide out in the south of France, obviously.
The first series of Absolutely Fabulous was broadcast back in 1992, nearly a quarter of a century ago. Times have changed since then but one thing is for certain, Patsy and Edina definitely haven’t. The twosome are still the same old, daft personalities. Absolutely Fabulous has always explored their quest to stay relevant and youthful whereas Eddy’s daughter, Saff, is in the rear view mirror being all mature and that – the movie doesn’t depart from this.
Absolutely Fabulous is exactly what you’d expect: slapstick comedy and a compilation of humiliating sequences throughout. This isn’t a problem if you’re familiar with the 90s sitcom, which I am. However, if you’re new to this show and fancy watching the film to then visit the sitcom; it doesn’t bode well. Jennifer Saunders, who takes sole responsibility for the script, hasn’t really tried to turn this outing into a film— instead, it’s simply a sketch. It’s stretched out to its absolute limit at 91 minutes with little remorse.
It feels too drawn out and so many scenes could have been scrapped. It makes you wonder that an hour special on BBC1 could have sufficed. But to be fair, how could 60 minutes fit in all the cameos? This film is crammed full of celebs with the likes of Jon Hamm, Sadie Frost, Stella McCartney, Alexa Chung, Suki Waterhouse, Dame Edna and Joan Collins. The problem being with a whole host of cameos is there is bound to be many you don’t know. If you’re not from Britain, you more than likely won’t know Rylan, Nick Grimshaw, Jamie Laing, Ella Eyre, Foxes, Abbey Clancy and Alesha Dixon. There are so many cameos that it makes Zoolander 2 look anonymous.
There are a few scenes to saviour though. I belly-laughed at two sequences, with a chuckle at a few others, and they all involve the brilliant Joanna Lumley. In the first few scenes, we see Patsy starting her day by injecting herself with Botox whilst commenting “I’m vaping darling” to the outraged Saffy – very topical. My favourite scene must be the meeting with Jon Hamm. Patsy goes over to Jon to get his attention so Eddy can move in on Kate Moss to sign her up. Their encounter is brilliant as she flirtatiously reminds him they have met before… “Oh god, I was 15,” he says in shock. “A very big 15,” Patsy snickers. “You’re still... alive,” he says, whimpering, “You took my virginity... please leave me my sanity.” – One of the film’s highlights.
On the whole though, it’s a mixed bag. There are a few scenes of comedy gold but they are just about outweighed by too many mediocre pieces. The plot is too disjointed to be a classic comedy with too many second-tier celebrity cameos. If you enjoy the TV series though, then you won’t be disappointed - it’s an episode expanded for you Ab Fab lovers. To be fair, once you take into consideration just how much time has passed with this sitcom; then Saunders and Lumley have worked wonders.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2.5 Stars
Absolutely Fabulous screened at the Phoenix Leicester cinema last week – certificate 15. Many films like this also feature at the Phoenix regularly. See their website here website here.