Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (DVD)

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (DVD)

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Review of "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (DVD)"

published 19/05/2017 | afy9mab
Member since : 11/07/2000
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All of my DVD reviews are film only, so do not include pricing information. If you have time, please read and rate my Batman V Superman review.
Satisfactory
Pro The actors know their characters inside out.
Cons The writing and direction are weak, there are very few jokes and very little happens.
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"Abolutely Flabulous"

FILM ONLY REVIEW

Edina Monsoon’s PR business is in trouble and she is desperate for a new client to keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed. So when she hears that supermodel Kate Moss is looking for representation, she is determined to snag her. But in her haste, she accidentally knocks Moss into the Thames. With her name now mud and the paparazzi on her tail, she and best friend Patsy Stone sneak off to the south of France until the furore dies down.

I’ve never been a huge fan of “Absolutely Fabulous”, but I make a point of supporting the British film industry by watching as many British movies as I can. That being said, I always have reservations if I see the BBC’s logo come up when I go to the cinema. It usually means that the production has a limited budget and that it is eventually destined for numerous repeats on television. Consequently, the films tend to look cheap and lack a sense of scope. That is certainly true of this one, which may feature some glamorous locations and a whole raft of celebrity walk-ons, but always feels more like a made-for-TV special than a bona fide big-screen release.

Director Mandie Fletcher comes from a sitcom-directing background and I wonder if that has affected her overall style. There’s something a bit slapdash about many of the scenes, as though she only had the time to do a couple of takes of each one and then had to pick the best from what was available. Maybe it took so long to get all of the celebrity bit-parters in the same place at the same time that the production ran over schedule and everything had to be knocked together at the last minute.

The storytelling suffers from many of the same problems as the similarly-themed “Zoolander 2” - namely that it substitutes celebrity cameos for actual jokes. Attempts at satire are defanged by cosying up to the people it is trying to parody. The sheer number of celebrity walk-ons makes this more of a celebration of or an in-joke on the superficial nature of the fashion industry. The jokes themselves are too few and far between. It feels as though there is enough material to fill a standard twenty-six-minute episode, but that it has been spread out over a ninety-one-minute film. However, there is very little going on in terms of plot and no character development to speak of, so there isn’t much to fill the gaps. Consequently, I spent a lot of time waiting and hoping for something of note to happen. Luckily the director has a cast who know their characters inside out. As a result, fans of the series will still be able to revel in Patsy’s catty put-downs, Eddie’s desperate attempts to be cool and Saffy’s humourlessness. But there isn’t much here to draw in the uninitiated. The pacing is sloppy and the tone is uneven, which made the ninety-one-minute running-time feel longer to me.

The screenplay by Jennifer Saunders demonstrates the pitfalls of transferring a sitcom to the big screen. Structurally, the two formats differ greatly. Sitcoms thrive on predictability. Once the central premise, the characters and the relationships have been established, the writing is geared towards creating situations that force the characters to behave in a particular way or say a specific catchphrase. When this sequence is repeated in consecutive episodes, the audience recognise the build-up and laugh when the payoff is delivered. This only works if the patterns of behaviour are reinforced week after week, which means that the characters can’t really change. However, where sitcoms can get by on running gags and stereotypes, feature films generally require a beginning, a middle and an end and characters who are changed by their experiences. But Saunders simply applies the conventions of the sitcom to the movie. This leads to a paper-thin plot filled with characters who can’t or won’t change their behaviour, running through the same tired old gags. Instead of capitalising on the current celebrity-obsessed zeitgeist, the writer seem content to lurch from one familiar character to the next, doing whatever it is they have always done. The result is a predictable and emotionally unsatisfying story in which the characters haven’t changed in the fifteen years since the TV series ended.

The characterisation is simplistic. Edina is still an over-privileged, immature monster obsessed by whatever happens to be trendy at any given moment. Patsy Stone is a monstrous alcoholic, coke-snorting man-eater, who gave up giving a damn at some point in the 1960s. Her only concern is where the next posh frock and alcoholic bevvy are coming from. Saffron is now a dour divorcee with a teenage daughter and the world’s most boring boyfriend (who also happens to be completely surplus to the plot). Bubble is as dippy as ever and doesn’t really have anything to do. Edina’s mother is similarly lumbered with plot device status. The rest of the characters seemingly exist to fill the frame with more celebrity faces or vaguely-remembered minor players from the TV series. The dialogue is predictable, from Eddie’s malapropisms to Patsy’s streams of invective and creepy chat-up lines. There are also a few politically incorrect one-liners that all but brought the screening I was at to a standstill.

It’s business as usual for Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon. She’s vapid, self-obsessed and usually flapping about in a pool of self-pity. Joanna Lumley clearly relishes the chance to play one of her best-known characters again. She hams it up, merrily chewing the scenery at every opportunity. Julia Sawalha is resolutely po-faced as Saffron, but it seems a little sad that she isn’t allowed to do more than play the dowdy spinster. Jane Horrocks plays Bubble like an air-headed toddler, who gets most of her clothes from the dressing-up box. June Whitfield is as contemptuous as ever as Eddie’s long-suffering mother (I can hardly believe she’s now in her nineties). Chris Colfer from “Glee” plays yet another flamboyantly camp gay man as make-up artist Christopher, while Celia Imrie is smug as rival PR maven Claudia Bing and Kathy Burke is a whirlwind of expletives and put-downs as fashion magazine editor Magda.

The original music by Jake Monaco is a largely electronic score that features lots of synthesizers, drum machine and electric guitar, used to create a variety of moods. There are some sneaky sequences of slap bass, tambourine and percussion, but by and large the music is jaunty and not particularly original. The other soundtrack choices include tracks by La Roux, “Bird on the Wire” by Leonard Cohen, Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)”, lots of French pop tunes like “Le Jeu Du Telephone” by Lucky Blondo, Charles Trenet’s “Boum!” and “Tout pour Moi” by Francoise Hardy and a totally unnecessary cover of Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Kylie Minogue (who really needs to stop contributing to the soundtracks of films with the word “absolutely” in the title). Although I didn’t hate the music, I thought it was all a little obvious.

I was pretty much indifferent to “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”, as it was about what I expected from a sitcom adaptation. I thought the direction was slipshod and the writing was lazy. The performances were fine, but the characters didn’t really have anywhere to go to I suspect if you’re a fan of the original television programme, you’ll enjoy it far more than I did, especially if you’re watching it on the small screen and you treat it like a TV special rather than a big-budget movie.

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Comments on this review

  • Violet1278 published 26/06/2017
    Very helpful.
  • rolandrat123 published 18/06/2017
    ex
  • Chippytarka published 06/06/2017
    Want to see this!
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Product Information : Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (DVD)

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Product Details

Classification: 15 years and over

DVD Region: DVD

Video Category: Feature Film

Actor(s): Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Gwendoline Christie, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks

Production Year: 2016

Main Language: English

Director(s): Mandie Fletcher

EAN: 5039036077897

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Listed on Ciao since: 19/05/2017