Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)

Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks, Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness, Kathy Burke, Kate Moss

Directed by: Mandie Fletcher

Rating: 1 2 3

2016 has been a pretty sucky year. We've said goodbye to David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Prince and Anton Yelchin and hello to the Zika virus and an all-time low for the pound. The country's in turmoil, work is chaos, it's raining (again) and I'm hungover. What better way to cheer myself up, I thought, than a trip to the cinema to see Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie? And the sad thing is, that even though the film isn't terribly good, it's still the best thing I can think of.

Sadie Frost, Lulu, Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders, Abbey Clancy, Tinie Tempah, and Gwendoline Christie in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Yup, I tried retail therapy, and instead of the sophisticated LBD I was looking for I bought a skirt with a giraffe on it. Which is another good reason for me to welcome the return of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders), that (barely) walking wardrobe disaster, who, together with toxic '60s sidekick Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) is back to stumble through ninety mindless minutes of Bolly-fuelled escapist nonsense.

Oh I know, movie spinoffs of sitcoms are nearly always dreadful, bogged down by ludicrous plots, pointless cameos and the bit where they go on holiday. But then again, the plots of AbFab were always ludicrous and stuffed at the seams with appearances from celebrities who can't act, and one of the best episodes is the one where they go to France. And sure enough, the high point of this movie is the moment when our heroines, having committed a heinous crime of fashion (and I'm not just talking Eddie's onesie), are forced to flee the country via an airline called Budget Wings, staffed by, er, Rebel Wilson.

The plot is barely worthy of the name: mainly it's a thin excuse to tie together a string of really quite funny throwaway lines with an endless stream of cameo performances from anyone who's anyone in the fashion world, from Alexa Chung to Jerry Hall via Stella McCartney (and no, none of them can act), to random pop-ups from the likes of Joan Collins and Barry Humphries.

Joanna Lumley as Patsy and Jennifer Saunders as Edina in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

And yet for all its star-spangled silliness, the film is funniest, warmest and most enjoyable when it's just Eddie and Patsy, bitching and bantering like the old luvvies they are, fags in hand, looking oddly no more bizarre and redundant (or indeed much older) now than they did back in the pre-social media Stone Age of 1992. For, with its glitz and glamour and cigarette-smoke-wreathed high life, the film hasn't so much dragged AbFab into 2016 as dragged miserable, recession-ridden 2016 back to the early '90s. Which at the moment doesn't seem like such a bad idea: close your eyes and you can almost forget David Bowie's dead...

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