Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (3 stars)

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Joanna Lumley steals the show in the sitcom’s fun, not quite fabulous big screen outing

It’s rare to see two middle-aged women acting the fools on the big screen and the prospect of an Ab Fab movie at least promised some amusing antics from its drug-guzzling, Bolly-swilling duo: hapless PR Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and fashion mag slacker Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley). This TV to film adaptation, written by creator Saunders and directed by Mandie Fletcher, certainly delivers on that front – chaos abounds as the pair go on the run to the glamorous French Riviera after accidentally killing Kate Moss.

Saunders’ screenplay harks back to the best bits of the original 90s sitcom with bitchy quips and slapstick aplenty, but the film also riffs on Hollywood capers and shares similarities with 1964’s Bedtime Story (remade into Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in 1988). When the pair run out of money, they devise a con to marry a wealthy singleton and Lumley gets to have some real fun with it; whether she’s gnashing her teeth at Edina’s daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha) or snuggling up in bed formulating an escape plan with her best pal, her timing is spot-on, her facial expressions worth a thousand words.

There’s a long list of celebrity appearances (60 in total) – Stella McCartney, Lulu and Emma Bunton amongst them – who appear at lavish parties and mostly interrupt the enjoyable flow with their wooden delivery. As the film goes on, these incessant cameos become tiresome but there are a few highlights – including Gwendoline Christie airing some grievances about idiotic red carpet commentary and Jean-Paul Gaultier ambling along the Thames indulging in his hobby as a detectorist. Rebel Wilson also pops up as an air hostess in a budget airline sketch that pokes fun at snobby attitudes towards economy class. It’s like being inside the mind of the person who came up with Jennifer Aniston’s obnoxious Emirates adverts, but fans of the show will not be disappointed.

General release from Fri 1 Jul.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

  • 2016
  • UK
  • 1h 31min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Mandie Fletcher
  • Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Celia Imrie, Kate Moss
  • UK release: 2 July 2016

Eddy (Saunders) and Patsy (Lumley) are forced to go on the run after they accidentally kill Kate Moss. Well, you would.