VOD film review: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Patsy and Eddy8
Matthew Turner | On 08, Dec 2016
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Celia Imrie, Chris Colfer, Kathy Burke, Rebel Wilson
Watch Absolutely Fabulous The Movie online in the UK: Disney+ / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
When it comes to the movie business, it’s easy to see the appeal of transferring a beloved TV comedy to the big screen, because the built-in audience can often lead to flipping great wodges of cash, even if the resulting movie (looking at you, Mrs Brown’s Boys: Da Movie) isn’t actually very good. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie turned a tidy profit at the UK box office in 2016 – what is surprising is that the film is actually pretty decent, delivering some decent laughs and ensuring that fans of the show won’t be disappointed.
Gleefully returning to the characters they first created 25 years ago, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley play shallow publicist Edina “Eddy” Monsoon and Patsy Stone, her permanently pickled best friend-slash-hanger-on. When an accident aboard a party boat makes it look as if Eddy has killed Kate Moss by knocking her into the Thames, she flees to the Riviera with Patsy in tow. Once there, the hapless pair attempt to come up with a money-making scheme, which prompts Patsy to track down one of her old suitors.
The paper-thin plot gives an affectionate nod to the long-standing tradition of feature-length sitcom adaptations plonking their characters in foreign climes, while Saunders’ script also has fun riffing on the likes of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Some Like It Hot. That said, Saunders is shrewd enough not to bog the film down in too much plot, knowing full well that the characters’ outrageous behaviour is the main attraction.
To that end, Saunders and Lumley are both terrific, and their comic chemistry is as strong as it ever was. Lumley, in particular, is simply delightful, with an innate ability to steal every scene she’s in, whether it’s with a well-timed one-liner (such as forgetting the word for cash and calling it “hand money”) or a simple throwaway facial expression.
Director Mandie Fletcher ensures that there’s a consistently high gag rate (both verbal and visual), so that even though a large number of the jokes fall flat, you’re still never far away from a laugh-out-loud moment. That hit-to-miss ratio applies equally to the film’s seemingly endless parade of celebrity cameos (a whopping 60 in total), some of which are downright embarrassing, although a handful of them border on genius, most notably a surreal, throwaway gag involving Joan Collins.
Ultimately, this is an enjoyable British comedy that stays true to the spirit of the show and the unbeatable comic chemistry between Saunders and Lumley is more than enough to compensate for the film’s flaws.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is available on Disney+, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.