Saturday, July 23, 2016

Absolutely Fabulous (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

"Absolutely Fabulous" the cultish and very funny BBC series that originally ran from 1992 to 1996 with various specials in the millenium, now has a film with the same name subtitled as "The Movie".

The series detailed the quirky shenanigans of Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) as they carry on in their selfish search for recreational drugs, booze and money, usually in that order. The series worked because it lampooned social mores and proved daring, outrageous and fresh for its time in an era of staid British TV. One also had a real feeling for its motley characters with many guest stars skewering the realm of fashion and A-List parties.

In this film adaptation in the year 2016, it is more of the same as Patsy and Edina chase after fashion stories to make money so as to support their boozy habit. Edina is once again sloshing about while trying to get an advance on her book, but what was once fresh now feels rote with dialogue and reaction-shots on cue. Colorfully eccentric people fill the screen as the famous tipsy twosome chatter about and roll their eyes. The speech of every character is mumbling and rapid with hardly a quiet moment to be had. Edina's daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha) is here too, as is the dippy assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks). Saffron has an oddly passive daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness).

Edina has no money for champagne or vodka and schemes to get in good with Kate Moss. During a party, Edina knocks Moss into the Thames. What follows is a noisy goose chase from one jibber-jabbering party to the next. Characters zip to and fro like butterflies on methamphetamine interspersed with dance music. There are a few good lines and observations uttered by Joanna Lumley about aging and travel, but for the most part it is all about sloshing, wobbling, spilling and chattering with not much of it zany or fun because it feels routine. There are wonderful shots of Cannes but that's about it, aside from the fact that Patsy wears a mustache.

This outing is all pratfalls and motion having no space for the characters or the smart and cutting dialogue that made the original show so watchable. The film is too busy, replacing speech with attentively challenged sight gags galore as Edina and Patsy gargle with lobster and grapes.

There is one scene in an octagenarian dance party that may give a chuckle, but for the most part the yucks are all about the unfunny watery grave of Kate Moss.

Unless one is a die hard fan, "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie", is a vapid vapor commercially concocted from what was once a  cocktail of stronger stuff.

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