“Fabulous” is a word that I tend to throw around quite liberally, so I’m thrilled to use it to describe “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.” If you haven’t had a dose of the antics of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), then you simply haven’t lived with the gusto.
Transitioning from television sitcom to feature-length film can pose insurmountable challenges. For instance, the “Sex in the City” movie failed to live up to the same joie de vivre of the TV version. Having had its start as a long-running (six seasons) and popular British sitcom, “Absolutely Fabulous” has a huge fan base and a sense of character history. “ABFAB: The Movie” does it right.
If you’re a fan of the show, then you’ll watch with historical depth; however, all the funny business works, even if you’ve lived a banal existence and failed to experience Edina and Patsy.
These two best friends exist in a world of bling, champagne, fashion, and outrageous, often self-inflicted, drama. They do everything, and I do mean everything, to excess. Patsy’s purse full of Botox injectables and is never out of reach. Edina’s bottle of morning champagne is regularly empty by the time she’s out of her nightgown.
Fortunes come and go, and because they move in the right circles, Edina and Patsy always find a way to transition from the fringes into the limelight. Edina works in public relations, her best and only client being the singer Lulu. Patsy flits about looking for younger men and on rare occasions, shows up to make a decision at the glamour magazine that pays her to be fabulous.
Mostly, Edina and Patsy operate way beyond their means, but they’d never let a little thing like a bank balance slow them down. Their particular brand of selfishness knows no bounds.
As wild and crazy as Edina and Patsy are, Edina’s daughter Saffron (Julia Swalha) is solid and stable. Always the voice of reason amidst the chaos, Saffron withstands Edina’s terrible mothering and Patsy’s unabated abuse.
Most of the action in the movie focuses on an accident occurring when Edina accidently pushes supermodel Kate Moss (playing herself) into the river at an extravagant party. With Moss suddenly gone missing, the paparazzi blame Edina and become relentless in their determination to involve Edina and Patsy in her disappearance.
Of course, they need money they don’t have to make their escape to the French Riviera, but that detail won’t stop them. One elaborate scheme after another takes them to exotic locations. Guest appearances by the likes of Jon Hamm, Joan Collins, and Jerry Hall as themselves contribute to the glamour and pandemonium.
In spite of all their faults, you’ll find yourself rooting for Edina and Patsy. Here’s to two of the bravest, most self-assured characters I know, to Botox, and to morning champagne, darling.
Rated R for language including sexual references, and some drug use.
Marilyn Robitaille has been writing film reviews for the Empire-Tribune since 1999.