The self-indulgent, hard-drinking, party hardy, man crazy, egomaniacal and unaware Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) and Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) were the life of the television party for almost two decades. They’ve been away for a few years, but the most absurdly fabulous comedy pair to grace the small screen are back with a big screen edition.
“Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” takes the idiotic elements that made the TV series so fabulous and throws them on the big screen. Fans of the series will appreciate how well the story by Saunders hits all the high notes of the TV show.
Those who don’t know Joanna Lumley from Carl Laemmle should catch up with a few episodes of the series or at least find a friend who can fill in some of the juicy details before heading to the theater. Even if you opt not to see the movie, you will be exposed to the wonderful series.
The big screen production picks up a few years later with Patsy and Edina making their way blindly oblivious to the conventions most people face. Annoyances like money only begin to bother them when they have no more.
Edina hits on a plan to help her ailing public relations business that includes signing supermodel Kate Moss on as a client. That plan proves disastrous, and the friends must go on the run.
Just like the TV series, the film is at its best when the focus is on the antics of Patsy and Edina. Lumley has taken playing nutsy nouveau riche to an art form through being both a completely helpless and quite capable alcoholic who is worth of our sympathy and admiration.
At the same time, Saunders has made Edina both worthy of pity and praise. The way she can strike upon the most absurd of ideas, accenting it with a cigarette dangling from her lips, is the stuff of which great comedy is born.
This only works because they tend to live in a world that ignores reality. Rather than deal with Edina’s daughter and granddaughter, the pair live in a world of the rich and infamous. Champagne pours like a broken slushie machine and decadence is mandatory.
For the film, this opens the door for a host of cameo appearances, including former “Glee” star Chris Colfer in a wickedly funny roll as Edina’s hair stylist and confidant. Jon Hamm gets an equally funny cameo role.
But it all comes down to how beautifully Lumley and Saunders bring their characters to life. They have had so many years to play the roles that they come across as more of a second skin than an acting job. There are very few comedians who get to take a TV role to the big screen, and this delicious duo make the best of it
At least they do that for the fans of their show.
The flaw in the writing is that there isn’t enough explanation for newbies. A character like Bubble (Jane Horrocks) looks like a circus performer who got dropped at the film doorstep. Even Edina’s family tree needs a few more twigs of knowledge for the uninformed.
That’s not a big gaff because the general audience for “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” will be the loyal fans who have only had reruns of past shows to keep them company. Now there’s a new shipment of insanity and indulgences to entertain and delight.