First off, I have to confess I have never seen an episode of the cult British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, which ran off and on for the better part of the past quarter century. So seeing the new feature film spinoff Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie with a packed crowd the other night, I kind of felt like I was at a party where it turned out I didn’t know anyone else, but they all seemed in on the joke.
As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), it will really help your enjoyment of this cult favorite if you already are a fan of the series. Eventually, as this VERY broad British farce went along I settled into it, and I do admit some of it made me laugh out loud, but overall this is a real trifle best left to the already initiated. That said I can see the appeal of its two main characters, Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) who are the ab fab BFFs who make this tick, a kind of British Lucy and Ethel or Laverne and Shirley who somehow keep this grounded despite a wafer thin plot that is way over the top.
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Basic setup has Edina’s PR career on the rocks, so the girls cook up a plan to land her Kate Moss (playing herself) as a new client. Only problem is that at the party where Edina makes her pitch, she accidentally sends the star tumbling off the edge and into the Thames river. Having presumably drowned her perspective client, the pair set out on the lam away from the prying press and authorities to the French Riviera where they get involved in more shenanigans. That stuff is the best part of the film, if at the very least it provides some luscious scenery, mostly around Cannes, and brief cameos from the likes of Joan Collins and Dame Edna.
Saunders, who wrote the screenplay as well as the series, and Lumley have these parts down pat and play off each other expertly and with great spirit. Other members of the original cast, including Julia Sawalha as Edina’s daughter Saffron, and a delightful June Whitfield as her mother are also back, with newbies like Glee’s Chris Colfer as a stereotypical hair dresser. Jane Horrocks also gets some nice moments.
Other star cameos include 60’s pop star Lulu playing, well, Lulu and Jon Hamm also playing himself in a part he seems completely lost in, as well as numerous others who show up briefly. The costume design by Rebecca Hale is worth a big shout-out, perfectly matching the outrageous goings-on.
Mandie Fletcher directed and producers were Damian Jones and Jon Plowman. Stay through the final credits for the cast member who stares down the audience and tells them they are now free to go back to watching kitten videos. THAT was one of the funniest bits in the film, and just as entertaining an activity for those of us who may not be charter members of the Ab Fab club.
Fox Searchlight releases this frothy summer comedy today. If it is your cup of English Tea, you already know who you are.
Do you plan to see Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie? Let us know what you think.
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