Sweetie, darling! If it weren’t for Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders reprising their roles from the 1990s Brit import television series “Absolutely Fabulous,” this reinterpretation of the TV show into a big-screen film likely would have not worked. It’s the relentless mugging, outrageous schtick and otherwise hilarious antics of this dynamic duo that make this movie a very fun romp.
Of course, fans of the original “Ab Fab” will enjoy this more, but even audiences who never watched it (perhaps because they weren’t yet born!) will find this to be quite entertaining. Without question, Saunders (who also penned the screenplay) and Lumley are still right on point — incorporating the bitchy dialogue and unending champagne swilling that made their characters of Patsy and Eddy such iconic British comedy figures.
Fans of the old series will also be amused to find June Whitfield back as Eddy’s mother, Jane Horrocks as her deliciously ditzy assistant Bubble, and Julia Sawalha as Eddy’s eternally disapproving daughter Saffy — now the mom of a 13-year-old. That role falls to the engaging Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness as Lola, who much more in tune with her grandmother than her mother!
The storyline centers on Eddy’s attempt to revive her languishing public relations biz by landing Kate Moss as a new celebrity client. Instead of snaring the supermodel’s account, Eddy accidentally bumps her at a rooftop party, with Moss landing unceremoniously in London’s River Thames. When she doesn’t resurface, Britain is plunged into national mourning for the celebrity icon — and Eddy and Patsy are forced to flee the country, after basically being tagged murderers by the tabloid media.
The two inseparable pals jet off on a budget airline for the South of France, with Rebel Wilson as one of the film’s star cameos — delivering a very funny moment as a flight attendant locking horns with Lumley’s Patsy. Fans should be on the lookout for the fleeting appearances of an eclectic bunch — including Jon Hamm, Joan Collins, Moss (of course), Jerry Hall, Spice Girls mainstay Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton, Lulu and designer Jean-Paul Gaultier and Dame Edna creator Barry Humphries.
Once on the Cote d’Azur, Eddy and Patsy embark on a quest to find a rich beau for Patsy — who hopefully will restore their financial situation.
An intriguing aspect of “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” is the underlying theme that Eddy and Patsy are living in a world that clearly has passed them by. In many circles they used to dominate, they now are considered a bad joke — several decades out of date. Yet, the joy of Lumley’s and Saunders’ performances is the way they make Eddy and Patsy outrageously non-caring about that. It’s like they almost wear their lack of contemporary coolness as a badge of honor.
This is a very silly film, but one that will keep you laughing — or at least loudly chuckling — from start to finish. It’s a nice way to spend 90 minutes on a steamy summer night.
Then go out and pop open a bottle of the bubbly, darlings! Preferably, that should be a bottle of Patsy and Eddy’s beloved Bollinger.
Fox Searchlight presents a film directed by Mandie Fletcher and written by Jennifer Saunders. Running time: 86 minutes. Rated R (for language including sexual references, and some drug use). Opens Friday at local theaters.