If Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie isn’t the biggest cinematic travesty of all time, then it certainly comes close. I was a fan of the original series in 1992; I liked its sly humour, the way it skewered the pomposity of the fashion industry, and the sheer exuberant silliness of it all. It felt appropriately named, with its big, brash, brightly-coloured car-crash of a central character, and a wonderful supporting cast, who all seemed to be having so much fun.
Twenty-four years on, and it feels like a mistake to return to this trope: it’s already been well and truly mined, and the pickings here are very slim. It’s tired, hackneyed stuff, and that’s a crying shame. The jokes aren’t funny, and a million celebrity cameos just don’t make up for that. The transgender quips are crass and heavy-handed, while an ending that might have seemed daring and outré in 1959’s Some Like It Hot doesn’t quite cut it in 2016. There’s no depth here, no sophistication. It’s not that I think there are no-go areas for comedy, but some issues (dementia, gender-identity, race) surely demand a more considered approach? If you’re going to joke about them, at least say something interesting, something that will make us think.
There are no redeeming features, really. I smiled twice, but never laughed. Nothing is skewered here, except for Edina’s ego. Her newfound self-awareness makes her more tragic than she ever was, but there’s no longer the sense that she’s a product of an industry designed to eat itself. She’s just a fuck-up, with no one but herself to blame. And there’s not much fun in that.