Preface: I had never seen an episode of Ab Fab before watching this feature-length version, and probably won’t bother afterwards either.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie brings the iconic British TV series roaring to the screen with every drop of manic enthusiasm you’d feasibly expect. For fans it’ll surely do the job, if perhaps not for the uninitiated few who bother to take it on.
After Edina (Jennifer Saunders) causes an international incident by accidentally knocking Kate Moss into the River Thames where she is believed to have drowned, she and her best pal Patsy (Joanna Lumley) jet off to the south of France as they hatch a plan to restore their reputations and return to living the glitzy high-life in London.
Yes, it’s an incredibly thin premise and the most base excuse to reunite these beloved characters for 90 minutes of silliness, but there’s a distinct feeling that fans of the show will have nary a problem with that. After all, it’s the personalities of these characters that endeared them to a nation above all else.
True to form, Ab Fab: The Movie is a swanky, lavish affair utterly packed with ludicrous cameos, from Mad Men’s Jon Hamm to Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie and literally dozens and dozens more. Much of the film’s fun stems from keeping your eyes peeled for these famous faces, all while the dynamic duo, to their credit, sell the fairly loose material with as much gusto as one could reasonably request.
What stops the film being anything more than watchable, though, is that the writing itself is indeed fairly slack; it opts for the easy laugh every time and there’s not much going on underneath the surface to take it to the next level. It is frothy fun and the Cannes landscape is undeniably gorgeous, but sticking to the grand tradition of TV shows heading to the big screen, it ultimately ends up feeling a bit lazy.
Again, fans will almost certainly give it a pass simply because it’s entertaining seeing Saunders and Lumley back together, but if you’re not yet acquainted with the show, this one won’t seem anywhere near as appealing (as it logically shouldn’t).
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas July 22nd