REVIEW: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

ab fab the movie

by Charles Gant |
Published on

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

STARRING: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield

DIRECTOR: Mandie Fletcher (CERT 15, 91 MINUTES)

The plot: More than two decades after BBC TV's Absolutely Fabulous first introduced us to Edina and Patsy, Jennifer Saunders' most enduring comic creation finally arrives on the big screen.

It won't be news to many that the film sees the beloved decadent duo hot-foot it to the French Riviera after Edina becomes a national pariah for pushing Kate Moss off a fashion-party balcony into the Thames.

ab fab the movie

What's been less publicised is that they also drown luckless PA Bubble (Horrocks) in a misguided attempt to work out which way the river current might have carried the waif-like supermodel.

What's right with it?

The various attempts to revive Absolutely Fabulous with comeback series and one-off specials proved pretty variable in quality, and Saunders' Spice Girls musical was hardly a triumph, leaving many to fear for this belated franchise extension.

It all starts with the script, of course, and this one bears every evidence of being well-honed by Saunders and the creative team. Bottom line: it's amply funny, while offering just enough emotional depth without sacrificing Ab Fab's mischievous essence.

As for the cast, Lumley's comic timing is razor sharp; Glee's Chris Colfer makes a nice addition as Edina's in-house hair and beauty artist, and newcomer Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness more than holds her own as Saffy's wise-beyond-her-years 13-year-old daughter Lola.

Among the cameos and supporting players, Rebel Wilson scores as a budget-airline flight attendant, and John Hamm, playing himself, brilliantly recoils in horror at the approach of Patsy, to whom – it's revealed – he lost his virginity at the age of 15.

ab fab the movie

What's wrong with it?

The film's comic momentum wavers when the action shifts to the Riviera.

Verdict:

Zoolander 2 is proof that throwing a lot of fashion-industry cameos at the screen and hoping for the best is a sure way to dissatisfy your audience. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has plenty of those, but they are mostly confined to the Huki Muki fashion party where the Moss debacle occurs.

Instead, Saunders' film stays true to what made the sitcom work – the characters and their misbehavior-enabling friendship – while throwing in the odd smart observation about how society treats genders differently as they age. Fans are unlikely to be disappointed.

Follow heat's Film Editor Charles Gant on Twitter at @charlesgant

Ab Fab: The Movie hits cinemas on Friday 1 July

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