Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks
Despite their age, publicist Edina (Saunders) and her best friend Patsy (Lumley) still live the high live amongst London’s elite – or at least try to. However, in an attempt to get Kate Moss as her client, Edina accidentally knocks Kate Moss (herself) into the river Thames. This creates a media firestorm and leads to Edina being accused of murder, and so her and Patsy flee to the French Riviera, where they hatch a plan to be able to live the high life forever.
TV series being turned into feature length one-off specials is of course nothing new, and what intrigues me most is why some get a cinema release, while others are a one-off special shown on TV – usually at Christmas. Well, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie should definitely be the latter, as not only is it a hideously unfunny piece of utter rubbish, but it also feels extremely televisual, and its cinematic release only serves to emphasise all the many things wrong with it.
I was personally a fan of the TV series, as it worked as a half decent satire and Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley shared a great chemistry, but the magic is sadly very lacking from this belated feature length outing. It’s painfully lacklustre ‘story’, predictable comic set pieces and televisual style put it in the same horrible league as Mrs Brown’s Boys: D’Movie, while the endless list of embarrassing cameos of people turning up as themselves put it into the even more horrid and embarrassing league of Keith Lemon: The Film.
In the film’s first third we have more familiar territory, and the magic is sorely lacking as the jokes feel tired, lazy and predictable. However, things just get progressively worse as more and more (semi) famous people turn up playing themselves, which unfortunately only makes the film feel hideously self-indulgent and lazy. These cameos could have worked if the script had more intelligence, but the supposed ‘jokes’ are just way too obvious and lazy.
Then we have the supposed ‘plot’; well, this is the final nail and in the very colourful coffin as it does the common thing of sending its characters abroad and going for the classic ‘fish out of water’ scenario (which can work). Well, Patsy and Edina of course find themselves getting into all sorts of ‘hilarious’ japes as it seems clear that all involved are truly struggling to fill the 90 minute running time, which leads to a plot where it feels like they are just making things up as they go along and some appalling, and supposedly ‘comic’ set pieces, as well as more embarrassing cameos.
Of course, as this is a feature length film we require a character arc of some kind, and the attempt at this is just as clunky and badly written as the rest of the film. While Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie proves to also identify with a very loose definition of the term ‘movie’, as it also feels horribly televisual and hideously out of place away from the confines of being on a small television screen.
With its belated timing, poor writing and televisual feel, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie may have just about worked as a forgettable TV special, but its theatrical release means that it is quite simply an insult to both the intelligence of sentient beings, but also the art of cinema. Though Keith Lemon: The Film is one of the most unpleasant viewing experiences anyone could ever have to endure, the lengthy list of embarrassing cameos means that Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie comes worryingly close to that very dark and unforgettable place.
Yet another TV to cinema transformation that fails to understand the meaning of a key word in its title and what that actually represents; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie lacks the magic of the TV series, and is a painful and (thanks to the cameos) often embarrassing viewing experience with a distinctive lack of any laughs.