By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
In 1992, the Absolutely Fabulous took the British airwaves by storm and would eventually gain a cult following in the U.S. The wild and irresponsible misadventures of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) captured the hearts of fans through the 1990s and would live on through reruns in syndication. In 2011, the show celebrated its upcoming 20th anniversary with a small revival of three episodes. Five years later, die hard fans of the series have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite characters in a theatrical film that delivers hearty laughs, but not a very strong story. Nevertheless, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is still a lot of fun and the two lead actresses are still in top comedic form.
It may be over twenty years since Edina and Patsy first started behaving badly and irresponsibly, but these two best friends are still at it. Still partying hard and trying to avoid the consequences of their bad behavior, the ladies are barely keeping together as they get older. Edina still barely runs her PR company despite losing several angry clients and Patsy still hardly works as a magazine editor, much to the ire of Edina’s daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) who is now grown-up and a mother of her daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness). With her agency on the verge of falling apart, Eddy becomes desperate to sign a major client to save her business. When they get word that Kate Moss has fired her current agency, Eddy and Patsy aggressively attempt to court her at a fashion, but in their zealousness, things go terribly/hilariously wrong.
Written by Jennifer Saunders and directed by Mandie Fletcher, Ab Fab: The Movie obviously has a larger budget than the old 1990s TV show, but doesn’t offer much more story wise to entice masses of fans and non-fans to pay top dollar to watch in the theater. The production value may be higher, but the film doesn’t really beg to be seen theatrically and would have been just as good on a television screen. That said, the comedy is still golden and Saunders, Lumley, and their supporting cast do not miss a beat. The two leads, who became cult legends for these signature characters, reprise their roles quite comfortably and competently.
The same goes for Julia Sawalha who portrays Eddy’s frustrated and more reserved daughter Saffron. It is a joy to see her grumble and scold her mother again, and now worry about the quality of influence her naughty mother has on her impressionable teen daughter Lola. Also returning are June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks, Christopher Ryan, Mo Gaffney, and more familiar faces the fans will surely recognize and enjoy. The movie also features loads upon loads of fun celebrity cameos including Kate Moss, Emma Bunton, Lulu, Joan Collins, Stella McCartney, Gwendoline Christie and many more. I’d hate to spoil the funnier ones.
As I watched the film, I came to the conclusion that the film may not appeal to those unfamiliar with the show and its characters. I was never a die-hard fan of the show, but watched enough episodes with a good friend to not be so disoriented. For those completely uninitiated, I would strongly recommend watching some episodes of the TV series to get better acquainted and determine whether or not the Ab Fab world is one’s cup of tea. If it is, I don’t really think it is necessary to watch the entire series before seeing the film, but it might improve the experience.
As for the die-hards, I highly doubt my endorsement will mean much, because they are already there. Still, I feel that, as much as I enjoyed the film, this film would have been a fine reunion movie for television. The thin plot and story doesn’t add a whole lot to the Ab Fab universe, but it is still fun and hilarious to see Eddy and Patsy at it again. It is definitely a fun and nostalgic journey.