Monday, 4 July 2016

REVIEW - ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE (MANDIE FLETCHER)


There's an art to creating the perfect sitcom, believe it or not. Happen upon an example of a horrible misunderstanding of that art and you'd surely agree. It's an art that resolutely does not translate to the big screen, whereas the reverse is a far more seamless affair, however. Absolutely Fabulous normally nails that art, and in a manner that makes the transition to film a lot simpler: it's a sitcom that knows it's a sitcom, thus freeing it from the stodginess of most of its brethren. A 30-minute episode forgives its flaws, its brevity and the promise of redemption next time around making the awkward patches that bit more palatable. If Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie cannot, by definition, boast such forgiving features, it is at least aided by the series' aforementioned self-awareness. In concept, too, there were indeed multiple potential scenarios to mould into a movie for these most vibrant, prepossessing, extroverted characters. Jennifer Saunders has evidently toiled to maintain everything that worked best about these iconic creations on the small screen, though their already-established longevity ought to have been a fairly reliable indicator. Between her writing and Mandie Fletcher's directing, the laugh track is never missed, with many jokes, both visual and verbal, landing as squarely as they ever did. The broadened scope of the film's aesthetic design thus never betrays the essential Ab Fab feeling, even as the musical score strives too hard to emphasize its newfound difference. Saunders' genius, not to mention Joanna Lumley's, shines throughout, no matter the quality of the comedy, which is brilliant at best and a little bit racist at worst. Alas, if the sitcom was near perfect, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is not. But it's as good as it needs to be, and that's good enough for me.