ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS (7.5 out of 10) Directed by Mandie Fletcher; Written by Jennifer Saunders; Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, Julia Sawalha and June Whitfield; Rated R for language including sexual references, and some drug use; In release July 22, 2016.
It’s hard to believe that so many of us have been following the misadventures of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone for over 20 years. “Ab Fab” debuted on the BBC back in 1992 and never looked back. Its combination of racy, crude and tongue-in-cheek humor made millions fall in love with the two ne’er do well heroines who refuse to grow up. To say fans were excited for this movie would be an understatement, and they will be absolutely pleased with what they get.
Playing out like an extra-long episode of the TV show, “Absolutely Fabulous” reunites us with Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) and catches us up on what has happened since we saw them at the Olympics four years ago. Patsy is working at a fashion magazine, and Edina’s PR firm is losing money and clients. Desperate to inject some new blood into her flailing business, Eddy attempts to woo Kate Moss over to her firm at a chic-chic fashion party, only to accidently knock her into the Thames, apparently killing her. Now a worldwide pariah, Eddy and Patsy flee the police in England and look to start new lives in the south of France, where everyone is a criminal, of course.
Before I go any further, let me be clear that this movie is a huge love letter to fans of the series who have watched and memorized every episode since the early 90s. Anyone not familiar with what’s come before, will be completely lost and will most likely despise this film. Fans only need apply.
Now, with that caveat out of the way, those who know and love Eddy and Patsy, warts and all, will be ecstatic. Every second is stuffed with references and throwbacks to all the little things we have loved over the decades, and all our favorite characters get their moment to shine or at least get a good joke in. Saffy (Julia Sawalha) and Bubble (Jane Horrocks) especially are having fun here, with Bubble playing a much larger role in how the plot plays out than expected. And of course, it wouldn’t be “Ab Fab” without gratuitous cameos, which include Chris Colfer, Rebel Wilson, Lulu, Graham Norton, Jon Hamm and dozens more.
But in the end, it’s Eddy and Patsy that we are here for, and they are just as deviously delightful as they have always been. Two women stuck in the Neverland of the 60s and behave worse than most teenagers do. But their almost naiveté and dedication to believing they ARE fabulous is what makes them endearing and is why we love them. They’re not good people, but you just can’t help but root for them.
So is this everything fans had been hoping for? Almost, but not quite. It’s essentially a good episode of the show, but one that can’t stand on its own without the series holding it up. Newcomers will be confused and possibly aghast at what they see, and will fail to understand all the hype, but everyone else will be having the time of their lives. Just make sure to smuggle in some champagne and nibblies to enjoy in the theater.