I had such a bad time watching the AB-FAB movie I couldn't bring myself to review. The 1990s sitcom was so joyous - so well acted and written - so scabrous in its ridicule of drunken, free-loading PRs and the insecurities of middle-aged women - and the movie was so, so awful. But I was finally moved to write by a story on twitter proclaiming this to be the most lucrative British opening weekend since SPECTRE. Of course! I cried in dismay. It's because of people like me! We all went to see this film on a wave of nostalgia and were bitterly disappointed by the results. The back-slapping will no doubt end when a precipitous decline in weekly ticket sales is reported on the back of abysmal word of mouth.
So as you all know, AB-FAB the TV show featured PR exec Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and her ex-model/stylist sidekick Patsy (Joanna Lumley). In the old days they used to lurch around London, shopping at Harvey Nicks, swilling champagne they hadn't paid for and putting two fingers up to Eddy's sensible daughter (Julia Sawalha). In a world obsessed with youth, where women over a certain age can't act a certain way, it was a delight to see these two behaving so very badly. And yes, there was the occasional moment of piercing insecurity and self-doubt, but that only made the jokes better.
In writing this new movie, Jennifer Saunders makes the fatal mistake of having the pair face up to real economic hardship. Eddy's credit cards don't work. People won't give them stuff for free. She's stuck with two D-list clients - Baby Spice and Lulu. Plan A is for Eddy to lure in Kate Moss as a client, and when she inadvertently pushes her into the Thames, Plan B is for the pair to escape to Cannes and for Patsy to marry an old rich yacht-owner.
This is all so much nonsense. No-one wants to see Eddy and Patsy in 90 minutes of angst and poverty. Admittedly, there's one decent scene of them using a budget airline but other than that this i a movie that wants us to delight in seeing them suffer. And the plot twists are just poor. Patsy manning up to marry an Iris Apfel like old woman is just odd and isn't built upon as a joke. And why give Eddy a grand-daughter only to lose interest in her, or indeed Saffy a love interest only to lose interest in him.
The whole thing is far too lacking in proper jokes (although Patsy does have a couple of killer lines and withering looks). It's padded out with C-list cameos that make no sense and supposedly madcap car chases in Cannes which make even less sense. Christopher Biggins, Joan Collins, Barry Humphries? Really? The movie looks just as tired and out of date as the girls are in the new millennium. Poor Jon Hamm. What MUST he have thought?
Avoid at all costs.
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS has a running time of 90 minutes and is rated R. The movie opened in the UK this weekend and opens in the Netherlands on July 21st, the USA on July 22nd, Australia on August 4th, Poland on August 19th, Singapore on August 25th, Sweden on September 2nd, Germany on September 8th, Belgium on September 21st. Russia on October 13th and France on November 23rd.