The 1990s cult hit sitcom Absolutely Fabulous has finally made it to the big screen. Will the concept and characters still resonate over twenty years after the show’s premiere?
Edina (Jennifer Saunders) is a public relations representative in London. She and her magazine editor best friend, Patsy (Joanna Lumley), are forever in pursuit of the high life and kicking back and relaxing in the lap of luxury. Their boozing and drugging has always driven Edina’s straight-laced daughter, Saffy (Julia Sawalha), up the wall. Saffy is especially concerned about her mother’s behavior now that she and her daughter, Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness), are both living in Edina’s house. Edina’s business isn’t doing so great and no one is interested in her memoir, so when the opportunity presents itself to possibly sign supermodel Kate Moss, Edina jumps at it. Then she accidently knocks Moss into the Thames. With Moss believed dead, the paparazzi and the law are after Edina, so she and Patsy flee to the French Riviera. Will they find their happy ending or will Edina and Patsy spend their golden years in prison?
I was never a regular viewer of Absolutely Fabulous the TV show. I was generally familiar with the concept, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the movie really. The film was written by Saunders, who also created the show, and she has crafted a stupid, but very funny film here. The bawdy humor won’t be for everyone, but there are several laugh out loud moments. She also delves into some real emotions at the end and unlike other over-the-top comedies, they work here, probably because these characters have existed for over twenty years. Or maybe Brits just sell this stuff better. As far as the absurdity of the story and Edina and Patsy’s behavior, from what I understand, that’s a staple of the show, so if I had been a bit more familiar with the source material, I might have been a bit more forgiving there. But make no mistake, this film is funny. There are a bunch of magnificent cameos throughout—the best for me was Jon Hamm—and if I wasn’t laughing out loud for them, I was at least chuckling. Also, the digs at the world of high fashion were priceless.
While the whole cast does well here, playing right along with the wacky script, the film truly belongs to Saunders and Lumley. The two of them are fantastic and hilarious. Edina got on my nerves at times, as she’s supposed to, but Patsy is just a comedy wrecking ball, smashing apart every scene she’s in and leaving the audience in stitches. They’re just a magnificent duo with great chemistry.
Overall, Absolutely Fabulous isn’t the best comedy of the year, but it is definitely one of the better ones. The characters are at the same time completely absurd and authentic. Edina and Patsy kind of have that air of “you can’t make this stuff up” to them and I found them to be very funny. Fans of the show will probably enjoy the film more than those unfamiliar with the material, but the movie probably won’t win many new converts from those who are not fond of the type of comedy that Saunders and Lumley do.