Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks and June Whitfield. Directed by Mandie Fletcher. 91 minutes. Opens Friday at major theatres. 14A
This is as inside Bolly baseball as it gets, sweetie darling.
Those missing the ’90s Brit TV duo of Absolutely Fabulous stars Jennifer Saunders (Edina “Eddy” Monsoon) and Joanna Lumley (Patsy Stone) will be over the moon to have these two boozy, chain-smoking, label-obsessed broads — who never met a gift bag they didn’t like or a bottle of bubbly with enough volume — back in their lives.
The script for their big-screen debut (penned by series creator Saunders) hangs on a plot as flimsy as a supermodel’s bikini. And the second half gets quite droopy. But these vain and fickle gals, enthusiastic early adopters of train wreck comedy and masters of all manner of walks, stumbles and crawls of shame, make a for a fine summer diversion.
Catty as can be with everyone else, PR maven Eddy and fashion magazine editor Patsy (both of whom view working as an abstract concept) are friends for life. They greet each day with hangovers, home Botox kits and a weary sigh from Eddie’s uptight daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha), who now has a daughter of her own (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness).
The only thing drying out or up around Eddy is her client list. She’s barely hanging on to ’60s belter Lulu (who shows her comic skills here), “Baby Spice” Emma Bunton and a nameless “prestige” vodka. Worse, nobody is interested in publishing her tell-all book from the PR trenches. With her credit cards so deep in the red they’re throbbing, Eddy is shocked to find she has no more of the baffling stuff Patsy calls “hand money.”
A glam fashion industry party not only provides a chance for desperate Eddy to zero in on the suddenly publicist-free model Kate Moss, it also gives us the real story on how Jon Hamm lost his virginity. Curious? Cherchez Patsy, darling.
Moss ends in the Thames (pushed, slipped, who knows?) and Eddy gets the blame, sending the duo scurrying off to Cannes to hide out and try to score a sugar daddy in Patsy’s “old hunting ground.” Maybe her long-ago ultra-rich flame (Barry Humphries) would like to get the spark going again? Not likely; he and the other moneyed elder lads enjoying life along the Riviera have moved on to 20-somethings.
How far will Patsy go to fund their escapade? Put it like this: Lumley looks credibly, creepily sexy as a dude.
Stuffed with cameos and returning original series cast, bizarre fashions and 1950s-vintage TV slapstick, along with a surprisingly tender moment of self-refection from Eddy, Absolutely Fabulous isn’t great art, but it is high camp, darling.