So as I understand it, this movie is actually based on an English TV show ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS that’s been going on for twenty years. Er… kinda. There’s only six seasons, according to IMDb. My guess is that the show’s been cancelled and restarted every few years or so, but keeping that up for twenty years? Either this show has the fiercest following that would make FIREFLY fans feel inadequate, or… yeah, I don’t know what other explanation there could be. As you can plainly tell, I have not seen this show. I haven’t even heard of it until I asked my parents about it. They on the other hand seemed very familiar with the show and seem fairly interested in the movie.
While I can’t say whether or not I’m excited for this movie as a fan of the original show, I can say what my impressions are of the movie as a standalone film. The trailer… yeah, it looked like it could be funny. The premise certainly has me interested. A couple of glamorous older women get to meet famed model Kate Moss and accidentally kill her and go on the run, yeah, looks like there’s comedy potential. However, here’s my issues with it so far, as far as the trailer was revealing. Some of the jokes and slapstick seem ridiculously forced, or trying too hard. Maybe they’re saving the best jokes for the movie, but again, I can’t say I’m overly excited. As it stands, I’m indifferent to this movie. But how is it really? Is it as fabulous as my parents make it out to be, or is it just cheap nonsense? This is my honest opinion of ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE.
Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are not the richest women around, but they sure do love to carry themselves like they’re the highlight of high society, managing to seed their way into big parties that feature the biggest names in the modeling world. As it turns out, Edina and Patsy get word that fashion goddess Kate Moss (as herself) will be at a party on a yacht. Edina, in desperate need to save her PR agency that’s losing money, decides she wants to be Kate’s new PR. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one aware that Kate is looking for a new PR. Rival Claudia Bing (Celia Imrie) also seeks Kate Moss and the two accidentally knock Kate off of a balcony and into the water. She never rises back up, however, and the world believes that she’s dead, and Edina is blamed. Unable to deal with the public outcry, Edina and Patsy go on the run in hopes of starting a new life in a new place where their infamy isn’t known.
I feel like a lot of what I was looking at would be better understood by the fans of the show because… yeah, a lot of it was a bit out there, even for British humor.
Basically, the movie opens with whom I can only assume is their nutty friend and servant who is dressed up in… I haven’t the slightest idea what. It’s like a white leotard with yellow trunks and that leotard is coated with… inflatable cushions… I don’t have the slightest idea how to describe it.
From this point on, I get some of the basics. Edina and her daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha) aren’t the closest people. Edina’s kind of obsessed with her rich lifestyle and doesn’t always try to be a good mother. She’s by no means a bad person, but she’s got her priorities backwards. Saffy, as a result, is kind of strict toward her daughter and cold toward her mother. Again, not a bad person, especially considering who raised her, so it’s not hard to see how she ended up like she did. It doesn’t even end there, as Edina isn’t afraid to manipulate her own family to get what she wants. She drags her granddaughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) into her scheme to get Kate to accept Edina, even if it’s against Saffy’s desires. This is probably the most interesting stuff in the movie, as Sawalha is actually a solid actress, but none of these plot threads really go anywhere or get resolved.
I can’t deny that it’s very amusing to see big names like Gwendoline Christie (as herself) react so over-the-top to the idea that Kate Moss is dead, mourning and crying, it’s actually pretty funny. And that’s what kind of saves this movie; some of the offbeat humor does provide entertainment.
But there is an opposite side of the coin too. Some of the offbeat humor is not very funny. There’s a joke that Jon Hamm (playing himself) had lost his virginity with Patsy when he was fifteen years old. Wonderful, underage sex jokes. Gotta say, I wasn’t very comfortable with it. I won’t say it’s god-awful, considering it is Hamm making the joke as well, so it kind of works, but the fact that the script had to resort to this brand of humor at all just feels… American low-brow. I’m not sure what British low-brow humor would be like, so maybe some versions of bad-humor just traverse all cultures equally well.
The primary problem with the movie is that Saunders is still probably wired as a television writer. Judging from her writing credits on IMDb.com, she’s written a lot of the episodes of the actual TV show, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. Having never seen the show myself, I can’t attest if she’s a good writer or not, but I feel like movies are not her specialty. Maybe this story would have worked as a TV movie to kick-start another season of the show, but this movie is definitely not for a wide audience. Too much is just there for the sake of being there and no context always hurts a story.
It’s actually really hard for me to talk about this movie as it doesn’t really give me much to go on. Maybe true fans of the show would be able to ramble on about what was good, what was bad, what worked, what didn’t, but for the most part, this movie wasn’t for me. Hell, I forgot quite a bit of it and it hasn’t even been a week and what I do remember, I can’t really talk about because there’s just not a lot to say.
My honest rating: a weak 3/5
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