Absolutely Fabulous

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UK Release Date 1st July 2016
Director Mandie Fletcher
Starring Saunders Lumley MOSS
Runtime 91 mins
Certificate 15
Reviewer Jo
Reviewed 30th June 2016

I went to see the private screening of Absolutely Fabulous on June 26th 2016. Two days after my birthday but more importantly (well..) two days after Britain invented a time machine and took itself back to the 80’s in the very worst way possible. I refer of course to the utter cockshambling bollocks that is Brexit. Suffice to say I needed a cheering up. Or a plane ticket to South America. Winding my way through the streets of Soho I was at least buoyed by the amazing atmosphere that was still in the air from Pride, attended by over 1 million, no violence, lots of love and acceptance (not on the cover of one UK newspaper, natch). A big part of the parade this year was Absolutely Fabulous, a perfect pairing as drag queens have been plundering Patsy and Eddie for years and also because part of the movie takes part in a drag club. There was obviously still a great deal of love for these characters so brilliantly crafted by Jennifer Saunders 24 years ago in the 90s. I was curious to see if she could make work what so many others have fucked up completely and make the jump from cherished sitcom to satisfying movie – and you know what, for the most part I think she did. I’m sure there will be those that will attack the film for it’s ‘plot’ which is slimmer than Kate Moss’s waistline but it really did cheer me up on an un-cheer-up-able day and for that Ms Saunders I salute you. If you just go with it and enjoy what it is an accomplished and very funny comeback.

For those that are unaware of anything to do with Absolutely Fabulous, Jennifer Saunders plays Edina Monsoon, PR extraordinaire, pisshead and wearer of highly inappropriate haute couture. Terrible mother to a extremely frumpy and uncool daughter, Saffy and a desperate human being wanting to be in the cool crowd. And failing. Eddie’s partner in crime is fashion editor Patsy, constantly smoking, constantly taking drugs and drinking and constantly fabulous. Eddie has a brilliantly useless assistant called Bubble and is basically always too drunk or fat to be taken seriously by anyone in the fashion world. Got that? That was 24 years ago, now in 2016, unsurprisingly not too much has changed except that Eddie is even more desperate now as the world moves on and the world of PR and the necessity for a PR ‘person’ becomes obsolete. Eddie’s clients are Lulu, Baby Spice, boutique vodka and a strange Pop Specs brand. Eddie also needs money, to keep Patsy and she in the Bolly and Stoli and pay for the endless renovations on her west London mansion now that her ex husband is transgender and needs the money for his operations. Patsy discovers that Kate Moss is changing her PR and Eddie is once more alive with desire. Moss represents everything Eddie wants to be – cool, successful, thin…. she MUST HAVE MOSS. Seizing her opportunity at a partner Eddie’s fervour results in the worst possible thing – she pushes La Moss off a balcony into the Thames to her watery grave. Patsy and Eddie must then go on the run with Eddie’s granddaughter and her credit card to the south of France and try and live the life they always dreamed of. 

So there we have the frankly ludicrous plot of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. And so what? Frankly I didn’t care that it was because it just kept chugging along and making me laugh. The main draw of the movie, which was always the main draw of the movie, is Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders. The moment they arrive on screen in a bum clenching embarrassing runway show cock up almost welled up with emotion, I felt a surge of love and I immediately laughed. A huge relief, I hadn’t been expecting it to be as funny as it was. 

The chemistry between Saunders and Lumley is still terrific and there are some wonderful gags, Patsy injecting her face with Botox casually after a night out is hilarious and her Patsy is ramped up to 11 as sexual predator - more of the sabre toothed tiger variety than cougar as we are assuming her age is into triple figures these days.  Saunders writing is not overindulgent and she is still a terrifically clever writer who manages to make the audience feel emotion for these two awful vacuous women because, well because they are just so bloody funny.

Mandie Fletcher, who helmed episodes of the series, steers a steady ship here and manages to avoid too much self-indulgence, which in a series like this is applaudable. DP Chris Goodger manages to not make it not look like a cheap British sitcom and costume designer Rebecca Hale (who also designed some episodes) gets it dead right. 

Much of the original cast are back and are all perfect, Jane Horrocks deserved better lines but Julia Swahala reprises Saffy wonderfully and Robert Webb has a nice turn as her new boyfriend. Chris Colfer is a standout as hairdresser Chris and Barry Humphries pops up a couple of times hilariously. Nice to see June Whitfield on good form. Kathy Burke is also ‘spit your champagne out’ funny as a cockney Anna Wintour. Of course the film is stuffed to the gills with cameos – Cara, Stella, Marc, Baby Spice…. but Fletcher does manage to pull it all together without it feeling cheesy or tacked on. Kate Moss is a jolly good sport and really rather good. Look out for dawn French in a scene stealing turn as a daytime host.

In Short

On possibly the most dismal day in post war British history Absolutely Fabulous managed to get belly laughs and put a huge smile on my face. Saunders has done well to take a series over twenty years old and make it relevant to audiences of today. In this uptight depressing and PC world it's nice to see Patsy and Eddie stick two fingers up, with a fag in each hand. I can’t wait to get a gang together and go see it again. With a bottle of Bolly of course sweetie.   

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