ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE
DIRECTOR: Mandie Fletcher
CAST: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha
CLASSIFICATION: 13 D L
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)
LARA DE MATOS
Turning a television series into a full-length feature film is seldom as straightforward as it sounds. Particularly when the TV show in question has long since ceased to be a talking point, much less part of the current zeitgeist.
It has been more than 20 years since we were introduced to the chain-smoking, alcohol-pickled shenanigans of the madcap Edina “Eddy” Monsoon (Saunders) and BFF, Patsy Stone (Lumley). While Saunders (who also dons the hat of writer, along with comedy partner, Dawn French) attempts to remain true to the original characters, it’s an approach which will be lost on modern audiences (those outside the UK, at any rate, where Ab Fab still retains something of its “British institution” status).
For those of us who last saw the Sweetie Darling duo in action two decades ago, the movie rendition plays off in a manner that mirrors its protagonists: namely, awkward, amateurish and stretching – far – beyond its reach. The storyline, such that it is, centres on Eddy’s outrageous ploy to secure Kate Moss (yes, the supermodel) as one of her clients, in the tenuous hope of raising her dismal profile in the world of PR. But this being Eddy, what would otherwise be a normal pitch for a potential new client turns into a sequence of events that finds her and Patsy (at whose fashion gathering the catalytic incident prefacing the film’s whole plot occurs) fleeing from the law – and the country.
Cue preposterous antics involving the search for a long-lost sugar daddy to sponsor their champagne and caviar lifestyle, including Patsy parading around as a man (if you can consider a slapped-on moustache and her hair tied back in a ponytail, while still pasted with industrial layers of make-up and clad in female attire as “masculine”) in a ridiculous ruse to secure the affection – and riches – of the world’s wealthiest woman.
To be fair, the very premise of the original production was centred on the notion of these two middle-aged women behaving (and dressing) like their teenage selves, in a desperate bid to remain young, hip and happenin’, while teetering along the precipice that very often saw them slipping into the realm of the ridiculous. But where before, their satirical take on high society and the elite who populate the so-called upper echelons offered a measure of catty capers along with well-timed witty one-liners, now their escapades come across as something akin to a puerile, poorly rehearsed high school play. And the endless parade of British celebrities and self-serving fashion icons who pop out throughout the flick do little to lift its infantile essence.
Perhaps they would have done well to adhere to Patsy’s now iconic words from the sitcom when deciding to forge ahead with the film version: “Darling, if you want to talk bollocks and discover the meaning of life, you’re better off downing a bottle of whiskey.
“At least that way, you’re unconscious by the time you start to take yourself seriously.”
If you liked Bruno or Zoolander 2, this silliness will be just up your street.