When Eddy (Jennifer Saunders) has her book deal revoked, and her ex-husband stops paying for her lavish home, she and her lifelong friend/drinking buddy Patsy (Joanna Lumley) decide that representing Kate Moss is the way forward for both of them. Unfortunately, in her haste to talk to Moss, Eddy knocks her into the Thames and, with the world media believing Eddy killed Moss, the two friends escape to the south of France to hide out and continue to live fabulously, dahling.
It may seem as though it has been a long time since Saunders and Lumley recreated their most famous roles, but it has actually not been that long since Eddy and Pasty have graced our screens; it’s just that the comedy in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie feels dated and as though it was written back in the hey day of Ab Fab, before these familiar jokes became old.
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley recreate their roles as the hell raising, rather clueless PR execs, and they do well with the characters. Saunders leads the charge as the rather disenfranchised Eddy, who seems locked in a past she has almost forgotten, and trying to come to terms with a world in which she is almost irrelevant. Joanna Lumley, however, is the real star here, as her work on reactions and in the background of scenes is hilarious, over the top and pretty darn special. The rest of the cast reunites Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks with their roles from the TV show, features Chris Colfer as a stylist and liberally sprinkles in celebrity cameos including Kate Moss, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Lulu, Emma Bunton and La Roux.
Jennifer Saunders’ screenplay for Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie really feels as aged and flabby as Eddy continually bemoans herself to be throughout the film. We have heard these jokes before, we have seen this kind of best friend caper before and while this may have worked in the 90s when Ab Fab began, there is an almost wilful desire to keep the feel of the film as rooted in the past as the characters are. As well as this, the characters often feel as though they make choices because the script told them to, leaving the whole thing feeling rather like a sketch show instead of a 90 minute, coherent story.
Director Mandie Fletcher tries her best to keep the film moving through the thin story, but struggles to make the film coherent. As well as this, many of the jokes do not land and scenes feel as though they are unfinished. Lumley’s performance is strong; Saunders’ less so and the cameos vary from actor to actor. There is a feel of familiarity and awkwardness about the entire film, which is hard to shake.
In all, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is as hit and miss as the TV show was, once upon a time. Lumley shines, Saunders tries hard, but the thin story is against them from the start, as well as the feeling that we have seen all of this before.