Review: Absolutely Fabulous

It isn't what it used to be



AbFab is back, in part because that's how things work now. Any TV show or movie that ever made money comes back. Not just the big ones, either. Remember Buckaroo Banzai, the whacked out sci-fi/adventure/comedy? Kevin Smith is turning it into a TV series. Really. It's only a matter of time until we see a trailer for Thelma and Louise 2: An Unexpectedly Smooth Landing.

Beyond the revival craze, AbFab is one of those shows that refuses to die. After premiering in 1992, the comedy ended its run in 1996, only to be brought back in 2001. It ended again in 2004, but returned in 2011 for a three episode run to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The only way this show is going down permanently is with a bullet to the head. Even then, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a follow-up series titled Absolutely Fabulous Zombies.

As always, AbFab focuses on two women who were hard-partying Mods in the Swinging '60s and never settled down. They are best friends, though they've turned on each other countless times. Edina "Eddy" Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) is a publicist given to concocting insane schemes and blathering at length about whatever she's planning, outraged over and/or recovering from. She sports godawful mismatched outfits and is usually eating, dieting or both. I suspect she fancies herself the Mick Jagger of her world.

Her closest pal is Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), who most definitely is the Keith Richards of the duo. Patsy drinks and does drugs. All of them. She is taller, thinner and much quieter than Eddy, watching the goings-on in cool silence until she finds the right moment to spit some horrible comment from her perpetually curled lips.

Eddy lives with her dotty mother (June Whitfield) and grown daughter, Saffron "Saffy" Monsoon (Julie Sawalha), a good-hearted, levelheaded soul turned sour after a lifetime of being used and verbally pummeled by Eddy and, to a lesser extent, Patsy. Saffy's daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) joins in the film. Young Lola appears bright, well-balanced and independent. She is doomed. Rounding out the long-time cast is Jane Horrocks as Bubbles, Eddy's spaced-out personal assistant.

There are other additions to the cast. They don't matter. There are also celebrity cameos, lots of them. I didn't know who most of the celebrities were. Maybe you'll fare better. The only celebrity I'm mentioning is Kate Moss and that's because Eddy spends a substantial portion of the film eluding the authorities, who believe she has murdered Kate Moss.

And now we reach the part of this essay where I share my opinions about the movie. Here's the thing: I've been an AbFab fan for a long time. They made me laugh for years before my interest began to fade. Even then I kept checking in, secure in the belief that Eddy and Patsy would find some new way to shock me.

Sitting in the theater before the screening, I worried that Saunders and Lumley might be too old to pull off the roles. Then I remembered that part of the series' appeal has always been that Eddy and Patsy were too old to be behaving the way they do. So I brushed the concern from my head and settled back, ready to laugh. But I laughed out loud only once, at a gag involving Patsy and a taser. For me, AbFab: The Movie was cluttered and talky and not nearly as funny as I'd hoped. Enjoyed seeing the characters again. They're still delightfully awful, but not outrageous enough to watch.


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