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A movie that is dated, irrelevant and mostly unfunny
"THERE was a time the zeitgeist blew through me," says a wistful Edina "Eddy" Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) at the beginning of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. Fans of the beloved BBC sitcom series the film is based on will know exactly what she means.
Alas, the movie confirms what we feared when it was announced that Edina and her partner-in-crime Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) would be resurrected on the big screen: their time has passed and the zeitgeist is long gone.
It's one thing for 30- and 40-somethings to act silly while trying desperately to stay young and hip, but it's another thing entirely when you're senior citizens. Saunders (58) and Lumley (70) are still believable as the best of chums but their characters are a bit long in the tooth, as are Eddy's long-suffering daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) and eccentric assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks). Only Eddy's mother (June Whitefield) acts her age (90). The cast might be more suitable in a Brit version of The Golden Girls.
The original series ran from 1992 to 1996 but it didn't fully disappear from the telly until 2012, after a subsequent series and a number of intermittent special episodes. The first AbFab series exemplified the spirit of the times, and there is an undeniably 1990s feel to the movie, though not in a good way - some movie projects take years to develop, but this is ridiculous.
The movie, written by Saunders and directed by Mandie Fletcher, feels like one of those extended episodes (Fletcher directed a few of them), only with a bigger budget and more celebrity sightings. It says something about Saunders' clout that there are dozens of cameos by fashion industry types, movie stars and TV personalities as well as Dawn French, who together with Saunders created the original sketch on which the television series was based.
To be fair, Saunders and Co are happy to poke fun at themselves, concocting a ludicrous storyline that feels as though they're simply winging their way through, helped by substantial amounts of bubbly.
The plan seems to be to give the people what they want: one more look at Eddy and Patsy bumbling their way through their version of life, trying to avoid disaster at every turn - and failing miserably, of course.
There are plenty of throwaway lines along the way - hardly surprising, given the wafer-thin plot involving Eddy's attempt to snag Kate Moss as a client for her barely-afloat public relations company.
Naturally, things go wrong and she ends up accused of Moss's disappearance and apparent demise, so she and Patsy hotfoot it to the French Riviera, where they continue on their clueless way, champagne flutes in hand. "The Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat - the six finest words in the English language," sniffs Patsy.
The main problem with Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is that it feels dated, irrelevant and mostly unfunny. It would surely have been a better idea to remember Eddy and Patsy as they once were. As Jon Hamm (playing himself) declares when he spots Eddy making a mess of things at a fashionista event: "I can't believe you're still alive." Sadly, neither can we.