Saturday, July 30, 2016

Just watched...

...the long-anticipated film version of "Absolutely Fabulous."

If you, like me, have been a fan of the cult British television show "Absolutely Fabulous" (previously here) starring the talented, hilarious Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, you won't want to miss this theatrical outing written by Saunders. She created the character of Edina Monsoon and her daughter Saffron with fellow comedienne Dawn French over 25 years ago. And through all that time, Edina and her best friend Patsy Stone (Lumley) have been chugging along.

Some of the criticism leveled at this film adaptation says there is nothing new here, that it's just a longer version of the television show. Well, yeah, that's exactly what fans want and expect. Why would we want something different? Saunders gives us classic Edi, and her chaotic, clueless, boozey mess of a life. It is who Edina is. Patsy here is classic Patsy as well. In fact nearly every series regular makes an appearance in the film and we delight in seeing everyone including Julia Sawalha as Edi's daughter, June Whitfield as Edi's mother, and the masterfully quirky Jane Horrocks as Edi's assistant Bubble. Oh, and a million cameos from the entertainment and fashion worlds ("Game of Thrones" Gwendoline Chrisite and fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier are just two!). But if you do not have any prior knowledge or exposure to the series, like many critics who have savaged the film, I can see how you would not understand what is happening. It's almost like speaking another language...if you don't speak AbFabese, you won't understand anything at all.

Yes, this is a longer version of an episode of "Absolutely Fabulous" but something that occurred to me after I left the theater is: it was nice to have a full 90 minutes with the gals, and for a story arc to unfold rather than the 30 minute (or less) skits from the television series. The pacing was great and a longer format works quite well for Edi and Patsy.

As far as the story goes, that is classic "Ab Fab" as well. Edina is accused of murdering Kate Moss at a fashion event (she accidentally pushes her into the Thames) and she and Patsy must go on the run from the law. Hijinks, as they say, ensue. And all in Westwood heels! And the ending is a wonderful, deliberate homage to the classic Tony Curtis/ Jack Lemmon/ Marilyn Monroe film "Some Like It Hot."

The series was known for its over-the-top, almost cartoony atmosphere, with whip smart comedy but I found that the film version actually softened Edi in a few spots, and especially at the culmination of the film. It often does not work when a comedy decides to align itself with reality but in this case, it works perfectly. It did not feel incongruous or out of place at all. Well done, Jennifer!

Take a look at the trailer below.

Recommend? Like I said, if you are familiar with the show and these two characters, yes, of course. But if you are not, it might feel a bit like stepping into some kind of alternate universe...

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