Thursday, July 19, 2018
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Review: 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' is just that

I am happy to report that Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has no socially redeeming value whatsoever.

And that's just as it should be. Fans of the British sitcom, which ran off and on from 1992 to 2004, know that the fun is found in gasping and giggling at the over-the-top antics of its cheerfully despicable main characters.

London PR agency owner Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and her best friend, fashion magazine editor Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), are celebrity-chasing fashionistas who spend like there's no tomorrow and refuse to even consider they might be aging themselves.

As AbFab: The Movie opens, Eddy is facing dire money problems; even her fabled Champagne-filled refrigerator is empty. Her credit cards are maxed out — "Fix these," she commands, flinging a handful of them at her assistant Bubble (the delicious Jane Horrocks, whose outfits are as outlandish as ever). Her ex-husband is cutting off her alimony to pay for his gender transition surgery. And her PR business is not what it used to be.

When Plan A, a book contract, withers, Eddy concocts another plan: woo supermodel Kate Moss as a client at a gala Patsy's magazine is throwing. The upshot: Moss goes missing and Eddy is suspected of killing her.

So Eddy and Patsy flee the media firestorm (on a hilarious budget-airline flight staffed by a surly Rebel Wilson) and head to Cannes in search of an old flame of Patsy's, a rich man who wanted to marry her. She ends up married, all right, but not exactly to whom she expected.

That plot, which grows ever more ridiculous, allows AbFab to expand beyond the sound stage confines of the sitcom to the glittering locales Eddy and Patsy love so well: celebrity-studded parties and luxury hotels.

The movie's two stars are as wonderful as ever. Saunders, a brilliant comic writer who scripted the series and the movie, renders Eddy's outsized ego, high-heeled hobble and train wreck fashion sense as exuberantly as ever.

As Patsy, the godmother of the Resting B---- Face, Lumley rocks her sky-high blond beehive and snake-hipped stride. She deploys her signature snarl whenever she encounters Eddy's prim daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha), who appears not even to have changed her sensible cardigan since the old days. Saffron's teenage daughter, Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness), is whisked off to Cannes by her grandmother and jumps into the shenanigans so enthusiastically it suggests Eddy's bad behavior gene might have skipped a generation.

Any fan of British TV and films will recognize half the cast, from Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as Eddy's PR nemesis to Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) as her brutal book agent. Lots of American TV stars show up as well: Chris Colfer (Glee) plays Eddy's flamboyant hairdresser, and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as himself recalls with dismay a past encounter with Patsy. The movie bursts with celebrity cameos (it may hold the record for the most people billed as "himself" or "herself"), from singers Lulu and Emma Bunton ("Spice Baby, darling") as Eddy's prime clients to fashion figures like Stella McCartney, Jean-Paul Gaultier and, of course, Moss.

AbFab: The Movie is just the kind of fizzy, glittering party Eddy and Patsy would love, and just the not-so-guilty pleasure their fans will delight in.

Contact Colette Bancroft at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.

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