I’d be lying if I said I’d ever seen a single episode of the BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous, but I have it on good authority – my fiancée generally has good taste – that the hit-series is very much deserving of its huge popularity. Having seen the big screen adaptation, I can’t say I’m entirely convinced as Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is far from it.
In an attempt to justify its jump into the cinema, the premise of the feature length movie is decidedly absurd. Edina and Patsy, the alcohol-guzzling, glamour-loving friends at the centre of the series, are at a point where their money seems to be running out. Whilst attempting to secure Kate Moss for her PR agency, Edina accidentally pushes her into the Thames and is quickly accused of her murder.
When she begins to receive death threats and becomes the centre of the British media’s attention, her and Patsy decide to go on the run to Cannes where they hope to marry Patsy off to her former lover, who also happens to be very rich.
The 100mph plot is the perfect excuse to fill the film with cameos aplenty, and then some. To tell you who appears altogether would be doing a disservice to the film, but what I can tell you is that the cast list of cameos far outweighs that of the original cast. And whilst there is fun to be had playing celebrity bingo, the constant appearance of stars from film, television, radio and the catwalk end up ultimately taking away from the film itself.
The jokes are poor in comparison to the effort that’s been put into securing all the famous faces. It’s no coincidence that one of the biggest laughs comes in a scene between Jennifer Saunders’ Edina and her long-suffering daughter, Julia Sawalha’s Saffron. When asking her mother if she knows what a pariah is, Edina responds with “yeah, it’s a fish”. It’s the type of wit that Saunders has become renowned for, which gets the chance to shine when the story settles down for a moment.
Unfortunately, those moments are too few and far between to make Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie anything close to memorable. Saunders, Lumley and Sawalha are all as fantastic as ever, but it’s just a shame that they somehow get lost in their own movie. What’s perhaps most disappointing of all, however, is that for a film about female characters working in such a male controlled industry, that there are no attempts made at being progressive at all. In fact, it’s still the women who are objectified and reduced to marrying men just for the money.
Had the film at least had some kind of empowering message, it would have been worthwhile. As it stands, it is a rarely funny, mess of a movie that wastes all of its potential. For the sake of clarity, as I was leaving, I asked my fiancée what she thought. As somebody who has seen every episode and loves the series, for her to respond with a very disappointed ‘meh’ proves that it isn’t a lack of prior knowledge which is the problem, but rather the film itself.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com