The one lingering question which proves to be jarring to this big screen debut for Eddie and Patsy, is exactly why it needed a cinematic release. When doing so, an extra level of pressure and scrutiny exists, as people want their money’s worth – and though mildly entertaining for the best part, the long-awaited Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is an all too flawed picture that relies predominantly on cheap slapstick gags and cameos to evoke laughter.
Jennifer Saunders reprises her role as Edina, an out of touch PR agent fixated on drinking champagne and living out the same life her clients do, alongside her close friend and enabler, Patsy (Joanna Lumley). Under the watchful eye of her daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha), Eddie finds herself in trouble when accidentally pushing Kate Moss into the Thames during a launch party, thrusting her in the spotlight and in the centre of an unforgiving media storm. So she does what she always has done: drinks alcohol and attempts to forget any of it has ever happened.
Though the fashion industry is ever-changing and the rise of social media has seen a marked difference in how we approach celebrity culture, you only need to see Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon to know the world of fashion is still a staggeringly superficial environment, and thus makes for one that allows our protagonists to thrive in. However their age, and the fact they’re increasingly more out of touch with the youth, is a theme we merely brush over and never quite delve into substantially enough. The fact they aren’t particularly relevant has always been a factor in the series, but is more pertinent now, for they’re as untrendy as they’ve ever been.
Without the wealth of jokes, and with very few laughs littered around, this film survives primarily from nostalgia and the pure joy in seeing such celebrated comic creations back on the screen. Mandie Fletcher’s picture certainly means well and has its heart in the right place. You can tell that the cast had fun when putting this together, and that energy and enthusiasm is infectious. However, that doesn’t always equate to a high-quality piece of filmmaking, which this is far from being classed as.