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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

'absolutely fabulous the movie' DVD/Blu-ray: Absolutely Spectacular Adaptation of Cult Classic Britcom

Fox Searchlight Pictures earns an eternal place in the hearts of lovers of broad and bawdy British humor everywhere regarding the DVD/Blu-ray releases of "absolutely fabulous: The Movie." This spectacular big-budget incarnation of the terrifically oft-resurrected international BBC hit comedy series of the same name awesomely comes at the same time that fellow '90s British television comedy legend Tracey Ullman launches a new weekly show. The only downside of these awesome gifts is that the '90s qualifying as a nostalgic era makes many of us feel old.

Other general observations are mandatory before getting to the heart of the "AbFab" film. A memorable Jon Stewart bit during his "Daily Show" days revolves around making films based on television programs. Stewart comments that this does not work because a concept becomes a show, rather than a movie, because it does not warrant becoming a film. "AbFab" is an awesome exception to that rule.

The second observation that a rule regarding film adaptations of shows must be grander than the series does apply in this case. The colors being much brighter, the sets being larger, and the sound and every other element being more exciting scream for getting "AbFab" on Blu-ray.

The following YouTube clip of an "AbFab" trailer clearly shows that the girls are back in town and are as fabulous as ever.


The concept of both the series and the film is that comically self-absorbed legend-in-her-own mind PR agency owner Edina (Eddie) Monsoon spends most of her days and her nights drinking (and to a lesser extent drugging) with equally egocentric childhood best friend fashion editor Patsy Stone. Creative force/writer Jennifer Saunders still shines as Edina as does Joanna Lumley as Patsy.

As a fellow reviewer notes regarding "AbFab," a great aspect of the film is that it reunites the "five Js" of the series. Jennifer and Joanna once again work with third "J" Julia Sawalha, the now 30-something but still uptight long-suffering daughter (a.k.a bitch troll) Saffron of Edina.

Jane Horrocks also returns as hilariously (not necessarily) incompetent/childlike Edina personal assistant Bubble. The final "J" is the now-90 year-old June Whitfield, who plays the daffy mother of Edina.

Whitfield mistaking condoms for rubber gloves to use while washing dishes in an episode is one of the most fabulous of countless unforgettable moments in the series. This genuine trouper cramming herself in a suitcase in the film almost tops that moment and puts fellow nonagenarian Betty White to shame.

The next notable casting note is the plethora of (mostly British) celebrity cameos. These are too fabulous to spoil, but it worth mentioning that all of them make sense to the film. As a hypothetical example, Saunders does not resort to having Benedict Cumberbatch play a taxi driver just to get a cheap laugh.

The final bit of casting worthy of comment apparently has a less pure motive. Former "Glee" star Chris Colfer seemingly inexplicably plays faux-fierce hair stylist Christopher. The likely reason for this choice is to entice the millennial gay boys who love and admire Colfer to check out "AbFab."

The large-scale fun begins with Eddie and Patsy drunkenly arriving in the middle of a glitzy and glamorous show during London Fashion Week. The bright lights and pounding music of this scene alone justifies purchasing "AbFab" in Blu-ray.

Subsequent events that include the latest round in a decades-old feud with PR luminary Claudia Bing, played by Celia Imrie of personal fave Brit shows "Kingdom" and "After You've Gone," make Edina desperate to sign (apparently still) supermodel Kate Moss as a client.

The pursuit of Moss at a glitzy and glamorous reception leads to Edina accidentally knocking Moss into the Thames, where this 90s- era celebrity disappears. This makes Edina (and Patsy via presumed guilt by association) Public Enemy Number One in England. This notoriety in turn causes the gals to flee to Cannes.

Director Mandie Fletcher does a spectacular job contrasting the multi-aforementioned glitz and glamour of London with the calming pastels and clear-blue ocean of Cannes. Setting many scenes in the former in the evening and many scenes in the latter in the afternoon further emphasizes the night-and-day differences in the settings.

The contrast continues with things taking a decidely slapstick Lucy and Ethel visit the French Riviera turn as our heroines attempt to elude both familiar faces and the laws while taking extreme measures to reverse their reversals of fortune. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The antics include an effort to hide in plain sight, a poolside police chase, and the old motor vehicle in the swimming pool routine.

The finale provides a payoff that is absolutely fabulous in both senses of the word. Patsy and Eddie do not necessarily avoid the consequences of their self-indulgent ways but are oblivious to any lessons that their experiences would have taught us lesser mortals.

The DVD/Blu-ray special features include film promos, deleted scenes (some of which should not have wound up on the editing-room floor), outtakes, and a fun making-of feature with the absolutely fabulous Dame Edna.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "AbFab"the series or the film is encouraged to email me. You also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.