‘Absolutely Fabulous’ is Coming Back as a Movie. But Should It?

Eddie and Patsy are coming back on the big screen. (Photo: Fox Searchlight/BBC Films)
Eddie and Patsy are coming back on the big screen. (Photo: Fox Searchlight/BBC Films)
Eddie and Patsy are coming back on the big screen. (Photo: Fox Searchlight/BBC Films)

It’s official, sweetie darlings: Absolutely Fabulous is coming soon to a cinema near you.

Yes, the long-rumored, frequently assumed to be mythical feature film version of ridiculous adventures of desperate to be hip PR agent Edina Monsoon and her chain-smoking, hard-partying best friend Patsy Stone is finally arriving on the big screen. It will be titled, simply, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

We don’t know a lot about the film’s plot just yet, though Entertainment Weekly reported that the story finds Edina and Patsy reeling from “a major incident at an uber fashionable launch party” and decamping to the French Riviera.

Stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are obviously both back, and will be reportedly joined by original cast members Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks and June Whitfield, as well as many celebrity cameos.

For the record, I’m an Absolutely Fabulous superfan. My college car was named Eddie (sort for Edina, obviously). My friends and I had an entire mini-fleet of AbFab cars – we also had a Patsy, a Saffy, a Bubble, a Jackie, even a Marshall at one point. We were ridiculous about the series – we held regular group viewing sessions during Comedy Central marathons, conducted entire conversations in Patsy and Eddie quotes – you name it; if it was AbFab related, we probably did it.

So, after all that, hopefully this confession carries the appropriate weight:  This upcoming movie makes me so anxious.

The original Absolutely Fabulous premiered in 1992 and ended in 1996 with a two-part TV film called The Last Shout, which was ostensibly meant to serve as the series finale. Saunders revived the show for a fourth series in 2001, after a whole lot of back and forth about another pilot she’d written called Mirrorball, which featured most of the show’s original cast in different roles. Long story short, Saunders and company ended up doing two more seasons of AbFab through 2004, where the show once again theoretically ended with another special called White Box. The show was resurrected for a second time in January 2012, with three new one-off specials made to mark its 20th anniversary.

And now, here we are, with the prospect of an actual feature film looming on the horizon.

Which is cool. I’m just not so sure we should be excited about it. Let’s be honest, each subsequent time that Absolutely Fabulous has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the television graveyard, it’s gotten worse in terms of quality. The first three seasons are so perfect (“Death” and “Morocco” are the greatest ever) that it’s pretty natural the show’s second run might not live up to its glory. That’s okay. There are still some gems in that second set of episodes (“Fish Farm” and “Small Opening” in particular) despite the presence of some painful clunkers (most of Series 5). But the trio of 20th anniversary specials was very disappointing, the jokes seemed tired, and often times felt like a strange parody of the show I’d once loved so much. And now there’s going to be a movie.

Watch the teaser trailer for Eddie and Patsy’s feature film debut below:  

As you may have already guessed, this teaser doesn’t do much in the way of calming my fears about the (third? fourth?) return of Ab Fab. This looks like an ad for a low-budget cruise line, and doesn’t feature much (or anything) in the way of nods to the actual show. It feels silly, certainly, but not even in the fun way the show used to. And there’s certainly a chance that Eddie and Patsy just don’t fit in the world anymore now that it’s 2016. It’s kind of terrifying, because it’s certainly possible.

That said, it’s certainly possible that Saunders, who’s penned the film, has taken note of the things that did not really work in the show’s anniversary return and fixed them. Perhaps the bigger (and longer) format of a movie will provide better material. Maybe my nostalgic affection for these characters really can conquer anything. I don’t know.

In short, this means I’m surely going to see it, but be prepared for me to whine about it (a lot) if it’s awful.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is currently slated to open in select US theaters in July 2016. Are you excited for it or over the whole idea? Am I being too hard on Saunders for bringing the franchise again? Hit the comments with your thoughts. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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