We don’t do star ratings here at The Film Book Club. We rarely even do written reviews of films (this is the first on the site), but we do do one word reviews, and the is film was… alright. That is the best description of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie to be honest. I’d love to be full of glowing praise, I love Jennifer Saunders, I think she’s fucking brilliant, but this isn’t. It’s not really a film, it’s not even just a long episode of Ab Fab, it’s a halfway house, as these sitcom-to-movie films almost always are. If you’re a fan of Ab Fab you might enjoy it, all the characters are back (even the really shit ones who often pop up on Ab Fab, the ones outside the main cast that you wonder why they’re there) and the ever present jokes are there too (Eddy falling down the stairs, and Patsy almost coming to blows with Saffy) but they fall flat outside of their usual multicam setting, they aren’t as ‘comfy’ and familiar as you’d like in this film.
The plot is, if I’m honest, all over the place. The first 20 minutes of a film, usually the part dedicated to setting up the world you’re about to inhabit for the next hour and a half, is mostly filled with cameos and jokes that will be out of date by the time of the inevitable BBC One Christmas transmission. In fairness that lack of usual structure was also it’s biggest plus point, I’ve seen three films in the cinema this week, and this one was the least predictable. It didn’t follow storytelling convention to the letter like most films do and I was actually left guessing at every turn, I didn’t necessarily like which way they turned, but I liked not knowing. There are some plus points, the South of France looked gorgeous, you can definitely see why they
went on holiday chose to film there. The soundtrack at that latter part of the film is also well chosen.
The regular cast do well with the material they’ve been given, Joanna Lumley in particular was the highlight of the whole film and stole every scene as usual, and Rebel Wilson gets the tone right as a Flight Attendant, but there’s too many walk on parts, too many non actors given roles they can’t hold and too many (60) cameos. There is an audience for this film definitely, and I did enjoy it to a certain point (although considering it’s a comedy I didn’t laugh out loud once), and if you’re a BIG Ab Fab fan you’ll probably really enjoy it, but if you’re not you should definitely wait until this is on TV for free. Which it will be. Probably around Christmas. On BBC One.
Looking beyond this film in particular it’s sad to think of the current state of both sitcom and British film. This will be one of the biggest British comedies of the year and it really shouldn’t be, that’s nothing against Ab Fab in general, or this movie in particular but, why aren’t we seeing the new Ab Fab? Why aren’t we seeing a well budgeted film with new comedy writers and stars, the talent is out there, they just need a chance.