Directed by: Mandie Fletcher – Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Janette Tough, Emma Bunton, Lulu, Kate Moss and a plethora of pop culture and fashion favourites…
It’s four years since we last saw hard-living party-animals, Edina (Eddie) Monsoon, and Patsy Stone, on the small screen, but a big screen outing has been hinted at for years, and it finally arrives in all its colourful glory to much fanfare, a publicity overdrive, and the kind of hype usually reserved for a big-budget blockbuster.
There is no doubt that this movie is being heavily promoted, but the fact that the media screening was a mere one day before release didn’t bode well. Historically, when a screening is so close to the release date the movie is generally below par.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the TV show, I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, and I love seeing female-centric movies in a box office dominated by male leads, so I was probably as excited about this as anybody. I also wasn’t expecting War and Peace. After all, what made the TV show so brilliant was its knowing silliness.
And this does have silliness – in spades! The whole plot is silliness personified. Eddie inadvertently knocks Kate Moss into the Thames, and becomes the most hated woman in the UK. Broke and facing manslaughter charges, she and Patsy decide to flee to Cannes, so that Patsy can marry a millionaire former love, and keep them both in the style they have always been accustomed to, but could rarely afford. And that’s pretty much it, with slapstick and shtick carrying the rest of the movie.
The beauty about this pair is that they don’t need to overcomplicate the storyline. The humour is in their interaction, back and forth and physicality. And Lumley and Saunders still have it. They are as hilarious a double-act as they ever were. All of their old cronies are here as well, and slip back into character as if putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. Meanwhile, the cameos (which come thick and fast) are literally a who’s who of fashion and pop culture.
But that is about it. There is nothing here to make this stand out from a feature-length episode other than higher production values. There are some fantastic moments, but on the whole this is basically a high-budget episode. There’s nothing here they haven’t done before, and the characters haven’t moved on or evolved since we last saw them. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. After all, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But it does feel a bit disappointing. After four years and so much hype, I was expecting a bit more, and I spoke to a couple of other people who saw it in advance and they said the same.
If you don’t take it too seriously and appreciate the return of Eddie and Pats (which I did) this is good fun. However if you are expecting fireworks and big character evolution and a cohesive storyline, you will be disappointed. The pair are still camp icons, and this will definitely satiate anyone’s need for an Ab Fab fix, but it won’t be winning any BAFTAs, and it’s not even the pair’s finest hour.
One for the fans, this is a nice distraction for 90 minutes.
In Cinemas Now!