Sorry, dahlings, this movie’s not Absolutely Fabulous
You think millennials are resistant to growing up? Get a load of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone. The British fashion scenesters and kindred juvenile spirits are well past middle age, (seniors in fact) but they’re determined to hold on to the bad habits of their youth, partying all night and swilling champagne for breakfast — at least until the money dries up.
Jennifer Saunders, 58, who plays Edina, created the characters for the BBC series “Absolutely Fabulous,” which debuted in 1992 and became a cult hit in the United States. Almost a quarter century later, she and Joanna Lumley, 70, who plays Patsy, are still at it, as the continuation of their freewheeling story hits the big screen this weekend.
The good news is that a lot of the basic elements of the show remain intact. Patsy and Edina are still utterly self-absorbed and clueless. They badger Edina’s level-headed daughter, Saffron ( Julia Sawalha), for being too serious, rolling their eyes and harrumphing dramatically any time someone brings up social mores. They just want to have fun, darlings!
On the small screen, their adventures were madcap and carefree. But the movie turns what was once antic into something closer to manic. With a throwaway plot and a parade of weird characters, the comedy tries to be bigger, bolder and more outrageous than the television series, but it ends up being a lot less funny.
The story, thin as it is, centres on the disappearance of Kate Moss, whom Edina accidentally pushes into the Thames, where she’s presumed drowned. Rather than face manslaughter charges, she and Patsy steal away to Cannes with Saffron’s 13-year-old daughter, Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness).
There are still some laughs. As for sight gags, Patsy’s bizarre morning ritual includes some good ones: Injecting her face with Botox is pretty tame compared with where the rest of her primping ritual takes us.
Jennifer Saunders, left, as Edina, and Joanna Lumley as Patsy in "Absolutely Fabulous”. A big screen effort that falls short.