Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)

(On Cable TV, May 2017) I’ve got to stop watching movies based on TV shows I have heard about but never actively watched. Absolutely Fabulous has been on my list of things to watch for a while, but I thought I understood the premise well enough to skip ahead to the movie. Mistake… The issue is not in the basic concept (two lushes, barely reined in by a more responsible daughter) but in the in-jokes, call-backs and minor characters that pop up incomprehensibly to people who aren’t thoroughly familiar with the show. This understanding isn’t strictly required to follow along a plot that has our heroine pushing Kate Moss to worldwide sorrow and condemnation—but it gets grating when, every minute-and-a-half, there’s a palpable sense of missing something in order to get the most out of the film. It also really doesn’t help when the film heaps tons of cameos that are only understandable if you’re British and acutely aware of the London Fashion scene. Wikipedia can help only to a point—dissecting a joke is a good way to kill it. I’m not saying that the experience of watching the film was miserable—there are a few good jokes here and there, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders are quite good in the lead roles, and Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness makes a striking debut as the reasonable granddaughter who keeps grinning at the madness her elders get into. But even the good laughs (such as an assistant revealing a lavish villa based on embezzling the lead character) would have been bigger had I been more knowledgeable of the show. Sorry, Absolutely Fabulous. It’s not you, it’s me: You’re fabulous, I don’t know you and let’s leave it at that.

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