Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
dir Mandie Fletcher
scr Jennifer Saunders
prd Damian Jones, Jon Plowman
with Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness, Robert Webb, June Whitfield, Chris Colfer, Celia Imrie, Kathy Burke, Barry Humphries, Kate Moss
release UK 1.Jul.16, US 22.Jul.16
16/UK Fox 1h30
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Sweetie, darling: Saunders and Lumley

sw sw sw
Cameos include:
Emma Bunton, Lulu, Jon Hamm,
Rebel Wilson, Dawn French,
Jerry Hall, Joan Collins, Lily Cole,
Stella McCartney, Jean-Paul Gaultier,
Graham Norton, Mark Gatiss
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Without the drunken laughter that accompanies the sitcom, there are quite a few moments when you can almost hear tumbleweeds rolling after a joke drops. Still, there are hilarious moments throughout this movie, including some astute satire about celebrity culture. But the plot is an outright shambles, sustained only by an outrageous string of cameos.

Having vastly expanded her West London home, PR guru Edina (Saunders) discovers that her credit cards are "broken". With the champagne fridges empty, she and her pal Patsy (Lumley) are in urgent need of cash. Selling her memoir doesn't work, so Eddie decides to get Kate Moss as a client. But she inadvertently pushes Kate off a balcony, and is now wanted for questioning by the detective boyfriend (Webb) of her daughter Saffron (Sawalha). In a panic, Eddie and Pats flee to the French Riviera in search of Patsy's billionaire ex-boyfriend (Humphries).

Saunders' script includes most of the series' key players, including nutty assistant Bubble (Horrocks), Eddie's mother (Whitfield), rival PR Claudia (Imrie) and fashion editor Magda (Burke). Key new cast members include Donaldson-Holness as Saffron's 13-year-old daughter and Colfer as Eddie's live-in stylist. All of these are witty pastiche figures, but none really have anything to do with the story, which bounces around in a likeably loose style until Saunders gets tired of making sense of the plot and simply slaps on a series of ridiculous endings.

Much more entertainingly, Saunders and Lumley expand these comedy-sketch icons into proper cinematic characters, letting the audience see beneath the surface of women who have so fiercely refused to grow up since they hit TV screens in 1992. Edina and Patsy are simply hysterical, and both actresses fill scenes with witty throwaway gags that are funnier than any of the staged set-ups. There are even a few glimpses of the real women beneath the garish exteriors, and Saunders thankfully never takes the sentimentality seriously.

Director Fletcher gives the film a stylish sheen as it lurches from London Fashion Week to posh yachts moored in the South of France. Costumes are unrestrained, scenery is glamorous and both people and places ooze taste-free wealth. Along the way, there are clever jabs at red carpet events, from vacuous media interviews to headline-grabbing fashion choices. And the darker corners of the public relations world emerge with wicked authenticity. Although since the film itself needs to be a PR product, the teeth can't be too sharp.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs 2.Jul.16

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
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