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  Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Fashion Victims
Year: 2016
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Stars: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness, Celia Imrie, Lulu, Emma Bunton, Kathy Burke, Robert Webb, Mark Gatiss, Kate Moss, Wanda Ventham, Joan Collins, Barry Humphries, Rebel Wilson
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The party never ends for best friends Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), but the fact remains they are neither of them getting any younger, not that either of them are prepared to settle down. Edina works in public relations and Patsy in magazine publishing, each of them obsessed with the fashion industry though it could be they love it more than it loves them, but they turn up on the guests lists for all the top catwalk shows and parties, so it would be rude not to attend even if getting off their faces at such events would not be quite the done thing. After all, Edina is a grandmother now, and has been spending money like water, so her selfishness could lead to her doom...

There is a tradition with British sitcom movies that to make it that bit more special than the television episodes the writers would take the characters and plant them down in a different location for a holiday; everyone from Are You Being Served? to The Inbetweeners followed this tenet, even The Likely Lads had their caravan trip, and though not every series successful enough to make the transition to the big screen took that cue, it did seem to be too inviting a proposition to resist. Besides, the cast and crew could get a free holiday out of it themselves, which in the case of the Absolutely Fabulous movie meant a nice stay in the South of France where Edina and Patsy wind up after a professional mishap.

This took place in a world that came across as grotesquely exaggerated, yet there was always the nagging feeling writer and star Saunders was not too far away from the truth when she concocted the various schemes and details of Edina's existence. This was why the original television series was embraced by the fashion industry, either keen to prove it wasn't so po-faced and pretentious that it could not laugh at itself or believing this was an absurd lampoon and nobody was that outrageously clueless, so why not laugh along; you suspect it was the former. Certainly there were a vast amount of celebs wanting to demonstrate they had a sense of humour, hence just about everyone Saunders asked for a cameo agreed (Benedict Cumberbatch excepted, though they did get his mum).

The effect of this was much like Robert Altman's The Player, which used the presence of so many famous faces to build up a milieu of the famous rubbing shoulders with the even more famous, and there was a certain authenticity to such setpiece scenes as the fashion launch Patsy arranges which was littered with the well-known from Gwendoline Christie to Jerry Hall to Jon Hamm to Kate Moss. Ah, Kate... she was an important plot point for when Edina has her personal crisis (i.e. runs out of funds) she latches onto the idea that she could become the PR rep for her, instead of sputtering along with Emma Bunton and Lulu (both of whom appear in supporting roles), so when she has the chance to approach Kate at the bash she seizes it - and blunders straight into her, knocking the supermodel into the Thames.

Now Edina, with loyal Patsy by her side, is public enemy number one and may go to prison for manslaughter, hence the motive for setting off for the Riviera, whereupon things get even more ridiculous. You could tell a lot of audiences were just not going to go along with this, as if Saunders was too close to the world she was sending up therefore had little perspective in presenting a huge number of showbiz pals and asking us to laugh at them laughing at themselves, but there was a solid centre of worrying about growing old and irrelevant that held the wacky humour together, and if you were willing to approach Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie on these terms, there was a surprisingly strong hit rate for jokes. In fact, a lot of this was very funny indeed, Saunders in alliance with the regulars from the sitcom and veteran comedy expert Mandie Fletcher on directing duties who all knew exactly what they were doing: Edina and Patsy in particular were a pair of comedy monsters to treasure, yet immensely appealing in the way they stuck with one another through thick and thin. If you were as indulgent as this lot were, you would be very entertained. Music by Jake Monaco.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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