It’s evident almost from the get-go that the ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ movie is catered specifically for its devoted fanbase – I am going to urge the uninitiated to stay away – but even loyal viewers may find the big screen adventures of the UK’s most dishonourable duo an affair that all feels a little too familiar.
Recycled jokes and a hefty sense of deja-vu clouds Jennifer Saunders’ well-intentioned film which sends her narcissistic public relations “guru” Edina Monsoon and Joanna Lumley’s promiscuous magazine editor Patsy Stone on the run from the law when it’s believed Edina has killed supermodel Kate Moss at an over-the-top fashion event after bumping her off a balcony overlooking the Thames. It’s a ridiculous premise that suits the larger-than-life personalities Saunders and Lumley created in these two women but it’s one that sadly can’t maintain interest over its brisk 90 minute running time.
There are moments of genuine amusement and a slew of well-delivered retorts, and the audience in attendance at the Brisbane premiere seemed positively receptive to what was transpiring on screen, but I am an enthusiastic fan myself and I was disappointingly underwhelmed with how obvious the actions taking place were. No one can take away how committed to the roles Saunders and Lumley are, and Julia Sawalha as Edina’s long-suffering daughter Saffy, Jane Horrocks as quirky Bubble and June Whitfield as spaced-out Gran are all equally as devoted, but the spark they had during the televisual run was considerably brighter.
Whilst the film is packed with its share of amusing cameos – Jerry Hall’s self-absorbed red carpet interview is a highlight – not all of them hit their intended mark; an inexplicable appearance from Barry Humphries as Dame Edna being the most notable fail. And just as the celeb-cameo-heavy ‘Zoolander No. 2’ from earlier in the year proved, throwing every celebrity you possibly can at the screen doesn’t necessarily translate to success.
I wanted to like ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’, and there is certainly an audience out there who are likely to embrace it far more wholeheartedly than I, but I wanted a send-off that felt fresh and rejuvenated – all the things Edina wants for herself really – instead of a farewell that reminded me of how much better Eddie and Pats were on the small screen.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is in cinemas now. Watch the trailer below: