What’s a girl to do when your Absolutely Fabulous television series ends but you want to get the whole gang back together for another alcohol-induced ride? One word, darlings: movie. Ah, the enchanting allure of the silver screen, how many television adaptations has it given us? Probably more than we care to admit (or acknowledge), but for some reason, they keep on coming.
This time around it’s the shockingly self-indulgent Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) and Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) who grace our screens, with a shell-shocker of a story. Needing a new client for her PR – and not content with the likes of Lulu or Emma ‘Baby’ Bunton – Edina sets out to recruit the glowing Kate Moss into her fold. Things don’t go too well though, as she manages to ‘push’ her into the Thames and kill her.
Yes, the oh-so-fabulous Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders return as the questionable and OTT duo, Patsy Stone and Edina Monsoon, launching themselves into new and dramatic situations, and thankfully, the pair have plenty of bubbly chemistry; just like a good champagne, darling! Lumley’s Patsy is a train-wreck of a character but that’s precisely why it’s so easy to love her – you simply can’t pry her away from a ciggy even when she’s about to drown to death. Evening out the ratio of utterly tragic is Saunders’ Edina, who whilst finding herself in sticky situations manages to bring the humour, which you’d expect from someone as seasoned as Saunders. Supporting the two are plenty of familiar (and new) faces, such as the wacky Bubble (Jane Horrocks) who commands attention in her inflatable, zany outfits, and Saffy Monsoon (Julia Sawalha), the long-suffering daughter who provides a structured, solid ground for a film containing a plethora of personalities. Every performance is over emphasised, extravagant and shrouded in self-mocking humour that sails the film to success – at least for the first half.
The problem is while the film may be aesthetically stunning and benefit from absolutely fabulous performances, there isn’t much going on plot-wise. Whilst the first half of the film actually functions relatively well, we delve into the realms of ridiculousness when the gals go to the French Riviera, and suddenly everything is poorly paced and descending into lunacy. There’s a quick marriage with seemingly random follow-up that is grossly out of place, a ludicrous chase scene reminiscent of Johnny English, and a brief karaoke interlude at a drag bar. Needless to say, it plays out like drugged up fever dream that we wish we could wake up from.
However, the film thrives when it remains close to home territory, with the scenes in London containing some of the more hilarious segments and cameos, particularly surrounding Kate Moss’ death and the subsequent media attention for Monsoon and Stone. Truly, whilst the scenes in France are aesthetically pleasing, there is little substance in this idyllic land, and aside from a few chuckles involving a Shirley Bassey impersonator, there is little to laugh at. Fortunately, the main principal cast – and the barrage of celeb cameos – do their best to detract away what little is going on, and you might be able to ignore it if you truly try, sweetie.
Whilst Absolutely Fabulous might be too overwhelming bizarre and thinly stretched for some tastes, it will no doubt delight fans of the original TV series, and ultimately contains enough liveliness and sheer chemistry from its disastrous duo to make it entertaining to watch.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!