Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Alternative Title: Reasonably Fabulous

Ab Fab first aired on the BBC in 1992 (ha, I’m the same age as the show!) until 1995, then show the show aired sporadically as series or special until 2012. Four years on, our ever-glamourous and self-indulgent duo has made it onto the big screen. Has the film broken to the small to big screen curse? Sort of. Whilst it’s no Bad Education movie (click here for review) it still doesn’t shake off the feeling this is little more than a bloated and extended episode.

Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) are still living the life of luxury, though the money is beginning to run out. Edina’s PR company is failing and her rival, Claudia Bing (Celia Imrie), is taking all the glory. Edina is in need of a miracle and one does arrive – Kate Moss is just fired her PR and is need of a replacement. The wooing of Kate goes wrong however, when Edina manages to push Kate Moss into the Thames. Kate is presumed dead and Edina becomes Britain’s enemy no.1, deciding escape is her only option she flees to France ,in the hope of finding fortune, taking granddaughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) and Patsy with her. The police are on the hunt, as are Edina’s daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) and new boyfriend Nick (Robert Webb).

For fans of the show this film will either fill the void or slightly disappoint. Everything you loved about the tv series is present and correct – the humour and the characters are just how you remembered them. For those who are not so keen or aware of the show this will disappoint or even frustrate. For one thing, if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen most of the main gags.

Then there’s the fact the film takes the approach of adding in celebrities, loads of them – everywhere and in every scene there’s a cameo. Some of these work – Gwendoline ChristieRebel Wilson & Jon Hamm to name but three- and some just flopped – Jerry Hall and  Jean-Paul Gaultier displayed beyond awful ‘acting’ ability. However, instead of enhancing the story, they make-up the story. When watching it feels as if the celebrities were called in, or called in themselves asking for a role, and the storyline was manufactured from there. A join-the-dots approach to create a story with little substance.

What little there is of a story is archetypal for an extended sitcom episode- taking the characters we love to another country. Gasp! Let’s watch them engage in the customs of the land. Chuckle! Although it is evident the film was made with love for the characters, who we get to observe in their unabashedly badly behaved glory, it isn’t as funny as it could have been. At times it feels lazy and far too celebrity obsessed. Yes, this may be an accurate reflection of our main characters, but it also feels tired and out-dated. Like a relic from a past era it relies on in-jokes and cliches. And yet this didn’t bother me so much as my surroundings when watching the film were perfect for the occasion – 7pm at Picturehouse Central. The 90% capacity screen was made up with middle-aged amazonian women and groups of immaculately made-up men, this was clearly their show; laughs and cheers were constant throughout.

Saunders and Lumley play their characters with perfection but the written material isn’t there to make this a swansong that is absolute or fabulous. It’s not vintage Bolly but it will be a respite for the sport-weary and a reunion with old friends for those who loved the show.

2 stars

Pitch Perfect 2

Not Aca-perfect, but certainly Aca-mazing… download (11) Pitch Perfect (2012) came along as a suprise hit – on the back of the Glee trend – it was funny,with an excellent soundtrack and immensly likeable characters. The sequel, set three years on (reflecting the real life time difference), also manages to hit all the right notes. All of the old favourite characters are back, with one or two new faces. Things are the same, but different. The Barden Bellas have been flying high for the past three years, undisputed and unbeaten champions at the a cappella nationals. The sequel opens mid-action, the Bellas are performing for President Obama’s birthday celebration at the Kennedy centre. This is clearly to not-so-subtly explain to the audience, ‘that’s how big they now are guys!’ Of course this success is not going to last for long (otherwise what would be the point of the next two hours!?!) and, very quickly the girls are back to being the underdogs. pp2 As you have probably seen from the trailers or press interviews, during a fierce cover of ‘Wrecking Ball’ Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) has a wardrobe malfunction. The wardrobe malfunction to end all wardrobe malfunctions. When hanging 40 feet in the air, wearing a skint-tight electric-blue unitard whilst performing aerobics, her unitard starts to rip. In the crotch-area. So, when tangled up in metres of fabric and therefore stuck, knowing that she it totally exposed, she is left mearly to rotate and accept the inevitable. The president, and seemingly the entire country, is then ‘forceibly’ exposed to her crotch. amy1 The next five minutes of the film are devoted to the media reaction to the ‘horror’ that was having to see Fat Amy’s ‘gift from Down Under’. Whilst the media reaction is clearly and intentionally over-the-top it did start to feel uncomfortable to watch quite quickly. Thinking back to the media attention that used to be given to celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears – which where never as damning and seemingly disqusted as the new’s reporters are here – is that linked to Fat Amy’s (that is her self-appointed title) size that the media are so…horrified? If it had been one of the other Bellas that had been in the same situation, all of whom are slimmer and more typically Hollywood, would the incident have derailed their career in quite the same way? pp3 Nevertheless, the girls are told they can keep their title for the remainder of the year, but are disqualified from re-entering next year or recruiting any new girls at the start of term. That appears to be it for the girls – unless they can win the world a cappella championships. Well that should be easy of these national champs, right? Well not if the reigning world champions have anything to say about it… pp4 The Best Bits The Bellas we love are back on fine form. If you loved the first film, and loved the girls, then you’re going to love this film just as much. On a personal note – I continue to strive to be as cool as Beca (Anna Kendrick)…Her combination of music knowledge, sass with just the right amount of adorable awkardness is aspirational! In this film she has a secret that will test her dedication to the Bellas. With graduation round the corner, it’s time for her to make some big choices…Plus Jesse is back – so, you know, that’s good! pp5 In terms of cinema’s romance of the year – this has to be a strong contender.They balance each other out perfectly – and get some fantastic scenes together in this film. Together they are sweet and funny, with just the right amount of arrogance that is entertaining as opposed to annoying. Pat Benatar’s ‘We Belong’ will never sound the same again! webelong On that note, what made the first film so strong was the music choices. At times somewhat suprising, but always entertaining, they made the film engaging and made you care about the characters. The same is true with the sequel – which has a soundtrack that is equably listenable and enjoyable. The stand out sequence in the sequal has to be the return of the Riff-Off. In typical sequel-style, it is bigger and more dramatic. Wanting to avoid spoilers at this point, no more detail shall be given on this! nospilers To Conclude… All in all, this sequel is solid. Whilst it won’t draw in a new audience, it will appease those returning to a cappella Barden universe. The tone of the film is slightly uneven, at times feeling episodic many of the jokes have the same punch-line to the original and some one-note characterisation. However, this isn’t a case of ‘a difficult first album’, more like a cover or tribute to the first.