Big screen outing for the hit British sitcom, in which Patsy and Edina hide out on the Riviera after being suspected of killing Kate Moss
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Celia Imrie
Release date: July 1, 2016
Running time: 91 mins
Transferring British sitcoms to the big screen is a fairly safe bet when it comes to the movie business, because even the really terrible ones (see The Bad Education Movie and Mrs Brown’s Boys: Da Movie) still make boatloads of money, and the ones that are actually really good (i.e The Inbetweeners) go on to become phenomenal smash hits.
This week, Jennifer Saunders’ much-loved sitcom Absolutely Fabulous gets the big screen treatment, nearly twenty-five years after it first stumbled onto British screens. And it’s certain to prove a hit with its enormous fan base, largely because it plays very much to its strengths.
Patsy and Eddy turned up to eleven
Saunders and Joanna Lumley return as shallow publicist Edina “Eddy” Monsoon and Patsy Stone, her perpetually sozzled hanger-on-slash-best friend.
With her list of celebrity clients down to Baby Spice and Lulu, Eddy is running seriously short of funds, so when she hears Kate Moss is looking for new representation, she springs into action.
Unfortunately, said spring is all too literal and she ends up knocking Moss into the Thames. Hounded by the police and the media for apparently causing Moss’ death, Eddy and Patsy flee to the French Riviera, where they try to wangle some cash by tracking down one of Patsy’s old suitors.
There is a long-standing tradition of feature-length sitcom adaptations whisking its characters off to foreign climes, so its entirely possible that the paper-thin plot was conceived as a sort of tongue-in-cheek gag. At any rate, Saunders’ script isn’t remotely bothered with the details of the plot, knowing full well that all audiences want from the movie is Patsy and Eddy turned up to eleven.
To that end, the film doesn’t disappoint – Lumley and Saunders are one of TV’s best-loved double-acts and that relationship easily translates to the big screen, thanks to the effortless comic chemistry between the pair.
Lumley in particular is simply wonderful as Patsy, whether it’s getting tasered by Rebel Wilson on an EasyJet flight (“Mmm, you don’t get that on British Airways…”), reminding Jon Hamm of their first encounter (“I can’t believe you’re still…alive” is his response) or, gloriously, dragging up for her own wedding.
The script employs a cheerfully scattershot approach to gags, both verbal and visual, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment, even if the hit-to-miss ratio is roughly even.
Indeed, it takes the same approach with its celebrity cameos, of which there are literally dozens, with the successes more than compensating for the failures (a surreal, throwaway Joan Collins gag is particularly inspired).
Despite its flimsy plot, this remains worth seeing for the comic chemistry between Saunders and Lumley, which is as irresistible as it is hilarious.