Absolutely Fabulous (AbFab for short) is one of the most popular British comedies in the early 90s. I’ve only watched it sporadically, but I love the wacky humor of the two champagne-loving, fashion-obsessed duo Edina/Eddie & Patsy. The comedic style is in the vein of Vicar of Dibley starring Dawn French, not surprisingly, the AbFab sitcom is based on the 1990 sketch comedy French & Saunders, the other half being Jennifer Saunders.
When I heard last year that the movie version in the works, my initial thought is how it’d translate on the big screen, especially the fact that it seems two decades too late. But y’know what, I was up for seeing the shenanigans of two BFFs Eddie (Saunders), a London PR exec, and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), a fashion magazine editor. Despite the fact that it’s inherently challenging to adapt a movie based on a half-hour sitcom, I was hopeful because Saunders wrote the script and Mandie Fletcher, who’s directed some episodes of the TV show and other British comedies, was at the helm. Unfortunately, the script just didn’t have a compelling enough story to justify this movie’s existence. It pays homage to the series, but the perhaps it’s more suitable as a one-hour holiday special.
The script by Saunders just doesn’t have a compelling enough story to justify this movie’s existence. It’s perhaps more suitable for a one-hour holiday special. The premise of the movie revolves around the supposed demise of supermodel Kate Moss, and the movie relies on a whole bunch of celebrity cameos. Jon Hamm, Graham Norton, Stella McCartney, Jerry Hall are just some of the names I recognize. Hamm’s scene is funny but it’s already in the trailer, and the bits involving Jerry Hall is just so strange and not all all comedic. Dawn French also had a brief cameo, but I wish she had a bit more screen time. The funniest cameo for me is Rebel Wilson as the exceedingly-unhelpful flight attendant.
The two main characters are pretty much the same as in the sit-coms. They’re over-privileged, glitz-and-celebrity obsessed middle-aged women who absolutely refuse to grow up. On paper they’re hard to like but yet Saunders & Lumley have a certain eccentric charm about them that makes them so watchable. Interestingly, Eddie & Patsy’s self-delusion of grandeur and narcissism is pretty much a reflection of today’s selfie-obsessed culture. There’s some amusing moments about social media and people’s obsession with it. It’s even reflected in one of the many crazy outfits, such as the one worn by Eddie’s assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks), but the social commentary on it aren’t explored much here.
I suppose it’s naive of me to expect some kind of depth and emotional resonance from an AbFab movie, but they could’ve deepen the characters or expand some of the themes a bit. Instead, all we get is one preposterous gag after another that produces less laughs as the movie goes on. The banter between Eddie and her responsible daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha) is one of the funniest bits in the TV series because they’re such polar opposites. In this movie, Saffy is divorcee with a teenage bi-racial daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) and there’s a weird joke about her ex being back in Africa that’s daft and tone deaf. The whole mother-daughter relationship between her and Lola is so half-baked and just plain awkward.
What still translates well on the big screen is the friendship between Eddie & Patsy, it’s truly the best thing about the movie. Saunders and Lumley look like they genuinely love spending time together and their rapport is both heartwarming and bizarrely-amusing. All the scenes of them being stupendously-drunk, irreverent, un-hinged self are still amusing, which is the reason why the movie is still not a complete bust. But of course that’s never enough to make a good movie, so I can’t say that I love the movie overall.
I doubt non AbFab fans would get much out of this movie though. In fact I think they might get repulsed by all the excess and the über glamorous lifestyle and endless parties. I too find the setting in the French Riviera after the recent Nice attack quite unsettling. If you’re a big fan of the series, I suggest just wait for a rental.
Have you seen ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’? Let me know what you think!
24 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review – Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)”
I’ve never seen Ab Fab but I have seen a few parodies by French & Saunders as well as some of the music parodies they did. I love the one they did on Madonna that was just a riot.
I actually haven’t seen that one but not surprising it was a hoot! Wish French had a bigger n funnier cameo in AbFab movie.
There really aren’t many great films from successful Tv show adaptations are there?
Yeah I can’t think of one, it’s like video game movies, hard to create a decent one.
Not many but I thought Mission: Impossible, The Fugitive, Batman (1989), The Adams Family, Star Trek, 21 Jump Street, Dragnet, Edge of Darkness, The Equalizer, Get Smart, Maverick, Miami Vice and The Twilight Zone were pretty good.
Also, the first X-Files film’s pretty great!
Wow now that you’ve listed ’em, seems that there ARE a lot of good films based on tv series. Unfortunately this AbFab one rings hollow for me, more like AbDrab. Oh and that A Team movie is pretty silly too.
The 90s were popular time when Hollywood decided to turned old TV shows into films. But there were some not so great ones that they’ve made: The Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Mod Squad were some really bad films based on TV. I did enjoy The Saint but I wouldn’t consider it a good film. The last I heard there’s plan to make another film version, if done right, it could be another hit franchise like the Mission: Impossible films.
You know I did enjoy The A-Team, it’s kind of like The Hangover meet Mission: Impossible.
I remember watching Ab Fab in the 90s and laughing hysterically for almost a decade. I love the chemistry and ridiculousness of the plots and cast. Too bad it didn’t translate well onto the big screen. It seems like everything must be adapted to a film whether it should or not. Nice review, Ruth. I’ll probably rent it down the road just for old time sake.
Oh yeah, the series are hysterical! I wasn’t totally against the movie version, but I feel like the story just isn’t all that memorable to justify a feature film, y’know? But yeah, I’d still give it a rent as Eddie & Patsy’s friendship still made me laugh.
I remember the TV show aired constantly on Comedy Central back in the 90s, but I never go into the show so I don’t have interest in seeing this movie. I didn’t even know there’s a movie version coming out until I read about it last week. Lol.
No I don’t think this is for you at all Ted. In fact, people who aren’t familiar w/ the series would likely be baffled by it. I think the guy in front of me never laughed once and he immediately left the theater as soon as the credits rolled, LOL.
On my list of movies to watch.. Cant wait!
Hello, welcome to FC! I presume you’re a fan of the series? I hope you enjoy it more than I did!
Hey Ruth. I never could muster any excitement for this one. At the same time I was a little curious. Now I’m pretty confident that I will just pass it all together.
Hey Keith! I think if you’re not a fan of the series, and this is pretty wacky even for fans of British comedies, then yeah I suggest you pass on this. I just don’t think non AbFab fans would find it funny. For me, it was nothing more than just a few laughs here and there, I might as well just rewatch some of the episodes.
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“The script by Saunders just doesn’t have a compelling enough story to justify this movie’s existence.” You nailed it right there. I loved the series, but the movie (like most tv to big screen) was seriously lacking.
It’s really too bad as I think Saunders is so talented and the gang brought their A-game. But the movie felt like it was only interested in one big party w/ a bunch of cameos, and frankly, the whole bit in the French Riviera felt tacky and insensitive given what happened in Nice recently.
I’d rather watch paint dry than watch this! Ha ha.
Mwahahaha, can’t say I blame you but the series is pretty hilarious!
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