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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie review: grab the Bolly, darling

by MaryAnn Johanson

Absolutely Fabulous The Movie green light

Sends up one-upwomanship, egotistical self-help, and reflexive hedonism with zing. It is a sheer triumph to see two older women being really funny onscreen.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): love the TV show

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Did model Kate Moss fall off that balcony at a glitzy London fashion party, into the Thames and presumably drowned, her body lost to the currents of the river? Or was she pushed? Oh, of course she was pushed! But was it an accident, or did legendary PR veteran Edina Monsoon mean to take out the fashion icon?

Sweetie! Darling! Anyone who knows Eddie like we do knows she would never intentionally destroy her goddess, especially not when she was hoping to snag Moss as a new client. And know Eddie well we certainly do, we lovers of the BBC sitcom that crashed our collective party in the early 1990s and again in the early 2000s with the outrageous misadventures of Eddie (Jennifer Saunders [Minions, Coraline], series creator and screenwriter here) and her best friend, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley: Me Before You, The Wolf of Wall Street), a fashion editor who never seems to do any actual work. Time has not mellowed the besties, who take their joint rampage of fashion obsession, substance abuse, and general pursuit of an endless champagne-fueled good time to the south of France: what better place to go on the lam when accused of murder? Also unmellowed is Eddie’s long-suffering daughter, unfabulous and sensible plain-jane Saffon (Julia Sawalha: Horatio Hornblower: Duty, Chicken Run), still forced to be the adult in their relationship; Eddie’s assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks: Arthur Christmas, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties) is as giddily brainless as ever.

Some knowledge of the TV show will surely improve one’s appreciation of the silly twists here, but most of the humor continues to be relatively standalone sendups of the emptiness of one-upwomanship, egotistical self-help — “I’m trying to do my mindlessness” — and reflexive hedonismtweet. One attempt to appropriate the sudden popular interest in transgenderism, with a minor character from the show suddenly announcing a transition, falls flat in a way that’s a bit cringey. But on the whole, the zings are zingy, and the numerous celebrity cameos — Game of Throne’s Gwendoline Christie is my favorite — hit just-right notes of clued-in ridiculousness. Best of all, it is a sheer triumph to see two older women — Saunders is 58, Lumley 70 — being really, really funny onscreen, in all sorts of ways, from sly, often underplayed character satire to to literal falling-down slapstick. Fabulous.

green light 3.5 stars

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)
US/Canada release date: Jul 22 2016 | UK release date: Jul 01 2016

MPAA: rated R for language including sexual references, and some drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, drug misuse)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • LaSargenta

    I can’t find it now, but a couple months ago I saw a clip with a bad Asian stereotype caricature…is that still in there? (I’m really hoping not.)

  • bronxbee

    Yay! sweetie darling, i am glad to hear this — i love the girls.

  • There isn’t. There *is* a character — who appears only in passing, in a nonspeaking role — who is meant to be Asian yet is played by a Caucasian actress. But you’d never know this because that person’s face is never seen except behind a long shock of hair and huge sunglasses.

  • Patrick

    This might bring on the ire to some, but I hope this movie is a success so that it could herald a series of different BBC sitcoms adapted to movies heading to the silver screen–in short: I’m hoping for “Red Dwarf: The Movie”. It will probably never happen, but a Dwarfer can dream…

    (Also: hooray for AbFab!)

  • Maria Niku

    References to transgenderism are of course not new on Ab Fab. Patsy, after all, used to be a man for a couple of years until ‘it sort of fell off’.

    I suppose it might be a spoiler, but does Patsy say anything about how old she is now? :)

  • There are definitely jokes about both Patsy and Eddie’s ages.

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