Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mandie Fletcher|
|Written by||Jennifer Saunders|
by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French
|Music by||Jake Monaco|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$37 million|
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is a 2016 British female buddy comedy film directed by Mandie Fletcher and written by Jennifer Saunders, based on the television show Absolutely Fabulous. The film stars Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks.
The ever-glamorous and self-indulgent Edina and Patsy are now in their 60s; Edina is still running her PR agency, which is quickly running out of money and interest. The duo realise that Edina needs a miracle to save her PR company and renew her reputation.
Bubble wakes up a hungover Edina, who has come home from a fashion event. Edina realises that she signs a deal for an autobiography that day. Edina wakes Patsy up and tells her about her book, and how it will be "made into a film because it's about her life", whilst Patsy self-applies Botox. The company head (Mark Gatiss) rejects Edina's book because it is lazily written and there is little interest in Edina's PR agency. Whilst Patsy is setting up designer Huki Muki's fashion event, Patsy learns that supermodel Kate Moss is changing her PR, and immediately informs Edina. Patsy phones whilst Edina is at a PR meeting with rival PR Claudia Bing (Celia Imrie) and during the phone call with Patsy she accidentally leaves speaker on, leading Claudia to learn of Kate Moss's need for a new PR.
Edina and Patsy go to the fashion event with Edina's granddaughter, Lola, whilst Edina's daughter and Lola's mother, Saffron "Saffy" Monsoon, has a night out with her new boyfriend, Nick (Robert Webb). Edina finds Kate Moss on the balcony that is overlooking the Thames. Edina is aiming speak to Kate, but then Edina notices that Claudia is also there to see Kate, she rushes out to speak to Kate first, and accidentally bumps into her, causing her to fall off the balcony into the Thames.
There is hysteria all through the event, as Kate is presumed dead. The media immediately is at the scene to report on Kate's disappearance and supposed death. Edina and Patsy are taken into police custody, along with Lola. Saffy arrives to see the three and see if Lola is okay.
The following day, Edina returns home. Patsy arrives angry, since she has been fired from her job, due to her association with Edina and the previous night's events. The pair make up and go back to the Thames to see if they can find Kate, and use Bubble as a searching device in the water. In doing so, they supposedly kill Bubble as well and decide to flee before the media firestorm gets worse. They call upon Lola to use her credit card as a source of money. Edina, Patsy and Lola arrive at Cannes, while Saffy is desperately trying to find out about Lola's whereabouts back in London. She searches for Edina's friend and stylist, Christopher (Chris Colfer) for information.
Meanwhile, in Cannes, Edina and Patsy call upon help from Patsy's ex-lover and billionaire, Charlie (Barry Humphries). After Charlie rejects them, they seek help from Edina's mother (June Whitfield), who is celebrating the birthday of Eddie's relative, Violet. During this party, they encounter the Richest Woman in the World. In order to attract the Woman to get quick money, Patsy quickly changes her identity to a male alter-ego, "Pat" Stone. The following day, Patsy marries the Rich Woman and Edina and Patsy find the wealth they were looking for, and stay in a high-class hotel, with guests such as Dame Joan Collins and Dame Edna Everage.
Meanwhile, Edina and Patsy are seen in public by Emma Bunton who then tells Lulu about their whereabouts. Saffy arrives in Cannes with Nick and immediately heads to the hotel to find Lola. Lola is with Emma who tells Saffy of Edina's whereabouts, even though it is the least of Saffy's concerns. Lulu flies out to Cannes and meets with Bubble, who reveals that Kate just swam off and did not drown in the Thames. Bubble also reveals that she is also a millionaire and owns a massive Cannes pavilion because she has had control of Eddie's accounts for years, and has paid herself extra.
Lulu reports Edina and Patsy's whereabouts to the police, since her only desire is to take out Edina for what she has done. The police find Edina and Patsy and chase them through the town, as the duo escapes in a small, three-wheeled, fish-market van. They reach Bubble's pavilion, but the brake of the van breaks and they fall backwards into an infinity pool attached to Bubble's house. Saffy arrives at the scene to find Edina and Patsy slowly sinking into the pool, still inside the van. Edina apologises to Saffy for being a careless mother and wishes to drown in the pool, and to finally embrace the fact that she is old and can't run from justice forever. Saffy tells her that she loves her, and Bubble reveals that Kate Moss did not drown in the Thames. After finding this out, Edina immediately gets out of the van, realising she is not guilty.
A montage plays of countries celebrating that Kate Moss is still alive and that Edina is now her new PR. Edina's PR agency is renewed, and Kate is in even more demand now that she has been found. The film finishes with Patsy revealing to her rich wife that she isn't actually a man called "Pat" and is really a woman. Her wife reveals that she is actually a man and the film closes with the series's popular theme song, "This Wheel's on Fire" sung by Kylie Minogue.
- Jennifer Saunders as Edina "Eddy" Monsoon
- Joanna Lumley as Patsy Stone
- Julia Sawalha as Saffron "Saffy" Monsoon
- June Whitfield as Mother
- Jane Horrocks as Bubble and Shirley Bassey impersonator
- Chris Colfer as Christopher
- Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness as Lola
- Christopher Ryan as Marshall
- Mo Gaffney as Bo
- Kathy Burke as Magda
- Helen Lederer as Catriona
- Harriet Thorpe as Fleur
- Celia Imrie as Claudia Bing
- Robert Webb as Nick
- Marcia Warren as Lubliana
- Barry Humphries as Charlie
- Lulu as Herself
- Emma Bunton as Herself
- Kate Moss as Herself
- Wanda Ventham as Violet
- Janette Tough as Huki Muki
- Rebel Wilson as Flight Attendant
- Mark Gatiss as Joel
- Marcia Warren as Lubliana - The Richest Woman in the World
Multiple celebrity cameo appearances in the film were announced over the course of filming. In April 2016, Fox and the BBC confirmed a list of 60 cameos, most of which had not yet been announced, that would be featured in the film. They include:
- Richard Arnold
- Christopher Biggins
- Ozwald Boateng
- Judith Chalmers
- Gwendoline Christie as herself
- Alexa Chung
- Abbey Clancy
- Rylan Clark-Neal as Ryan
- Joan Collins
- Lily Cole as herself
- Giles Deacon
- Cara Delevingne
- Poppy Delevingne
- Alice Dellal
- Alesha Dixon
- Jourdan Dunn
- Beattie Edmondson as Claudia's assistant
- Ella Eyre
- Dawn French as Talk Show Host
- Sadie Frost
- Jean Paul Gaultier
- Llewella Gideon as Llewella
- Nick Grimshaw
- Orla Guerin as herself
- Jerry Hall
- Jon Hamm
- Jodie Harsh
- Perez Hilton
- Anya Hindmarch
- Pam Hogg
- Kelly Hoppen as herself
- Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries)
- Jocelyn Jee Esien as Nigerian TV Presenter
- Alex Jones
- La Roux as herself
- Jamie Laing
- Kathy Lette
- Daisy Lowe
- Stella McCartney as herself
- Suzy Menkes
- Nick Mohammed as Caspar
- Graham Norton as himself
- Miquita Oliver
- Jade Parfitt
- Jeremy Paxman
- Sophie Raworth
- Camilla Rutherford
- Brix Smith
- Lara Stone
- Tinie Tempah
- Bruno Tonioli as himself
- Wanda Ventham
- Suki Waterhouse
- Kirsty Wark
- Rebel Wilson as budget airline D.N.B.
Development and production
Saunders wrote and starred in Absolutely Fabulous, a British television sitcom for the BBC which originally ran for three series from 1992 to 1995, with intermittent additional series and specials through 2012. Absolutely Fabulous features the champagne-fueled duo of "international PR guru" Edina Monsoon (Saunders) and "sex-crazed magazine editor" Patsy Stone (Lumley). Additional characters include Edina's overly serious daughter Saffron (Sawalha), her daffy mother (Whitfield) and her even daffier assistant Bubble (Horrocks).
Deadline.com broke the story in November 2011 that Saunders planned to begin writing a film version of the series in 2012. The movie would begin with Edina and Patsy waking up hungover after a party on an oligarch's yacht, with everyone else gone and the boat somewhere the middle of the ocean. Saunders later said that she hoped to shoot the film on the French Riviera. In March 2012, Saunders confirmed that she was working on the script. She said of the plot:
Eddy and Patsy are looking for what they imagine glamorous life should be. They're constantly searching for that perfect place to sit or that perfect pair of sunglasses. It's Shangri-La and it just might be round the next corner. In the meantime, they decide to take Saffy's daughter off her—she calls her Jane, I call her Lola—but then they lose her.
Yes, well I have to do it now because I've threatened to a lot ... And then she [Lumley] kept announcing it and saying, "Yes, she's going to do it," and then Dawn French on our radio show at Christmas said, "I bet £100,000 that you don't write it," so now I have to write it, otherwise I have to pay her £100,000 ... Once you've had a bit of success, the last thing you want to do is go and make a flop. So the biggest fear in me is that it won't be good enough. I'm really nervous about it.
In April 2014, Saunders again confirmed on BBC Breakfast that she was in the process of writing the film. In April 2015, Saunders explained her delay with the script, saying "I think that's why I didn't do it for a while ... I thought, 'Wouldn't it be awful if it was awful.'" She then quipped, "but we're all so old, and Joanna [Lumley] said to me, 'Do it before we die!' We're all on the brink." Saunders also noted, "[The film] involves all the main characters and virtually everyone that's ever been in the series—all those characters". Lumley confirmed in July 2015 that the film's script was finished and that production would begin in October. She said of the project, "We are all there, the same old gang ... It is going to be ravishingly funny! Very gorgeous ... and completely fabulous!"
Production and filming
In August 2015, Deadline.com reported that "all of the original main cast" were confirmed, with Fox Searchlight Pictures in negotiations to co-finance and co-produce the film with BBC Films, and to handle worldwide distribution. It was also announced that Mandie Fletcher would direct, with Jon Plowman and Damian Jones as producers and Saunders, French and Maureen Vincent as executive producers. Deadline.com later reported that Christine Langan, Steve Milne, Christian Eisenbeiss and Nichola Martin were also executive producing, with DanTram Nguyen, Vice President of Production and Katie Goodson-Thomas, Director of Production overseeing the project for Fox .
Principal photography on the film began on 12 October 2015 in south of France. The BBC and Fox Searchlight subsequently released a promotional image of Saunders and Lumley in character on a yacht. Along with Sawalha, Whitfield and Horrocks, Kathy Burke was confirmed to be reprising her role as Magda, and Kate Moss, Emma Bunton and Lulu would appear in guest roles as themselves, as they had in the TV series. The cameo appearances of Harry Styles, Kelly Hoppen and Kim Kardashian were also announced as filming began. Multiple other celebrity cameos were announced during production, culminating with a 60-name list released in April 2016.
Deadline.com's Ali Jaafar wrote of the film's plot in October 2015:
Edina and Patsy are still oozing glitz and glamour, living the high life they are accustomed to; shopping, drinking and clubbing their way around London’s trendiest hotspots. Blamed for a major incident at an uber fashionable launch party, they become entangled in a media storm and are relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi. Fleeing penniless to the glamorous playground of the super-rich, the French Riviera, they hatch a plan to make their escape permanent and live the high life forevermore!
In December 2015, the film sparked controversy and accusations of racism when it was announced that caucasian comedian Janette Tough would be playing a Japanese character named Huki Muki. Korean American comedian Margaret Cho accused Ab Fab: The Movie of "yellowface", which she described as "when white people portray Asian people. And unfortunately it's happening in this film." Upon release of the film it became apparent that the character was not, in fact, Japanese but Scottish. When asked about the controversy, Jennifer Saunders replied "the whole film is about people being what they're not, Huki Muki is a brand, she is the designer and she looks a bit Japanese, but the moment she opens her mouth she's from Glasgow. There's no yellow makeup..."
Australian singer Kylie Minogue recorded and released a promotional single, "This Wheel's on Fire", as the official theme song for the film. This new version of the track, produced by Richard Stannard and Ash Howes, was released on June 10, 2016. The soundtrack, which will also include songs from Paloma Faith (whose "Ready for the Good Life" appears in the film's trailer), La Roux, Jason Derulo, Eartha Kitt, Nancy Sinatra, Santigold and others, was released on July 22, 2016 via Rhino Records. It debuted at number 38 on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia on 6 August.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 62% based on 117 reviews; the average rating is 5.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie picks up pretty much where its source material left off, delivering an adaptation that, as fans of this British export might say, does what it says on the tin." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Jennifer Saunders has hinted that a sequel may be considered if this movie does well at thebox office. On 28 November 2016, Jennifer Saunders confirmed that " She was done with Absolutely Fabulous " and it would not be returning to television for another series, or specials, nor would a sequel to the film be made. Saunders now wishes to focus on new projects and spend more time with her family.
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