Friday, July 22, 2016

“Absolutely Fabulous”– Movie Review



This week, I attended  New York Times Film Club screening of the new comedy, “Absolutely Fabulous”, starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.


When two women are accused of attempting to murder a top international model, can they prove their innocence or will they be forced to spend their lives as fugitives?


Finally, after all these years, both Edina and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) find themselves at the end of their respective ropes.  They are bereft of the necessities (e.g., champagne) and their munificent benefactor refuses to support their lifestyle.  Now, both women must figure out a way to live out the rest of their lives.  Edina has lost what little business credibility she may have had previously – a publisher has unceremoniously rejected her barely intelligible autobiography and she is leaking clients in her Public Relations company. 

But it always appears darkest before the dawn – Patsy informs Edina that internationally famous model Kate Moss has fired her Public Relations firm and is now looking for someone else to represent her.  Sensing an opportunity, Edina attends a celebrity-laden party held by Patsy’s fashion magazine so she can offer her services to Moss, who is scheduled to attend.  Unfortunately, Edina inadvertently knocks Moss into The Thames; Moss is presumed dead by the media when she is not immediately found.  Once Patsy is fired for inviting her guest, both she and Edina now find themselves on the run. 

With the police in hot pursuit, Edina and Patsy escape to The French Riviera where they stumble upon an elderly woman who’s incredibly wealthy and can offer them the financial support they need to live the extravagant lifestyle they both require – unfortunately, this requires Patsy to pose as a man so that she can hastily romance and marry this geriatric Baroness.  Ultimately, Patsy relents when she realizes the alternative – but even when she succeeds in her deceit, will she be able to convince this woman to support them both or will the police find them and arrest these women for the murder of a beloved fashion icon?


For the hardcore fans of the AbFab television show, the movie version might be a pleasant reminiscence.  If, however, you are relatively unfamiliar with the British TV version, you won’t entirely feel lost, but you won’t entirely feel entertained, either.  While it may be a fun experience for devotees of Edina and Patsy’s to catch up with the gals after an extended hiatus, the joy may indeed be short-lived.  For those who aren’t familiar with the show, this will likely not be a good choice as an introduction.  Many jokes just don’t go over well, if at all.

Although “Absolutely Fabulous” is only an hour and a half – arguably the perfect length for a comedy – it inexplicably seems to plod along to the end, especially in its second act.    There isn’t a sense of momentum propelling the story to its climax, which renders it somewhat anticlimactic.  It appears that when an actual joke couldn’t be conjured up, they just chose to insert a random celebrity for a quick laugh (perhaps the only true amusement in the film is identifying all of the celebrity cameos).  Just as some of the story alludes to Edina and Patsy being well past their time, perhaps “Absolutely Fabulous” is itself well past its time, too.         

Before the screening began, it appeared that the audience was replete with some of Edina and Patsy’s biggest fans.  At some point during (and especially after) the screening, it felt as though the gathering  had been disappointed; there was no applause at end of the movie, precious few audible laughs during it and a number of folks sprung to their feet and bolted the theater the moment the credits began to roll.  Perhaps the final disappointment is the movie’s conclusion, which is either a homage to Billy Wilder’s classic “Some Like It Hot” or a blatant steal.  Either way, its punchline is missing the punch from the line. 

 Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) on IMDb

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