ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE
FILM REVIEW - ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE
Running Length: 94 minutes
Directed by: Mandie Fletcher
Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks
Written by: Jennifer Saunders
Cinematography: Chris Goodger
Release Date: 1st July 2016
So unrelentingly terrible that it becomes oddly hypnotic.
You can count the amount of decent movie adaptions of TV comedies on one hand and you’d still have some digits left over. Police Squad! managed it and The Muppet Show pulled this mean feat off twice, but I’m struggling to think of any other examples (please don’t say Mrs. Brown’s Boys – I remain optimistic that history will judge this accordingly).
By rights, TV adaptions should work harder than the rest to coax us from our comfy couches and into the incongruous, expensive surroundings of the multiplex. Most don’t, and you’re left asking yourself, “Why am I watching Alan Partridge in a cinema?” So how do you bulk up a 30-minute show to feature length? You force-feed it with a list of celebrity cameos from A to Z and send the principal cast off on holidays (see also Holiday On the Buses, Steptoe and Son, Are You Being Served?). Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie adheres to a long-established pattern of underwhelming big screen adaptions.
Nothing has changed in the world of Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley). With a client base of Lulu and Baby Spice, Eddie desperately needs 5-10% of another celebrity’s earnings. So when Kate Moss comes on the market, Eddie goes in hard, so hard in fact that she knocks Moss into the Thames.
Believing that she’s killed the tobacco stained supermodel, Eddie heads off to Cannes with Patsy until the heat dies down. Patsy dons a fake moustache and marries a transgender millionaire (sidebar: Joanna Lumley in drag is totally Bill Nighy). Then Moss turns up alive and they all go home. For all of the movie’s problems (of course it’s a movie; it says so in the title), getting bogged down in plot is not one of them.
Saunders has bet everything on the goodwill of a loyal fanbase instead of writing a semi-decent script or any actual jokes. Some ill-advised transgender gags and desperate references to “trending” is the best that she has to offer. It’s very weak sauce indeed. Patsy and Eddie huff, puff and flap their way through an aimless first half. Then, we collectively enter a surreal, bizarro world of anti-humour, David Bowman star gate-style. This stuff is so unrelentingly terrible that it becomes oddly hypnotic.
Between all the one-offs and specials, Ab Fab has hardly been off the telly since the original run ended in 1996. It’s remarkable that Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is so eagerly awaited, but if this guff finds an audience then a Kickstarter campaign for Men Behaving Badly: The Movie can’t be far behind.
You’re going to need an awful lot of prosecco to get through it, sweetie.