WHEN Ab Fab ruled the airwaves at its zenith in the 1990s, it was glorious. It was wacky, it was satirical and it often had you holding in your sides, short of breath from fits of laughter.
But 24 years on from when we first met Eddie and Patsy, those particularly disastrous and clueless fashion mavens, the party is over.
They partied like it was 1999 before it was 1999 and now, as the after-after-after party winds down, they’re the only two has-beens in the corner, nursing that warm bottle of champagne like it was the last source of water in an apocalyptic bunker.
The latest drama sees Eddie in a spot of bother with her shrinking client list starting to put a crimp on her extravagant and wasteful lifestyle. When her attempt to push her biography on to a scathing publisher fails, she knows she has to land a big fish to keep the gravy train rolling.
Somehow this ends up with Eddie and Patsy as the target of the entire world’s hate when Eddie is accused of accidentally, possibly killing Kate Moss by pushing her into the Thames during a spiffy fashion event.
As you can imagine, the story just spirals from here as everything becomes more and more outlandish with the pair trying to deal with the fallout the only way they know how — running away.
In many ways, despite the passage of time, not much has changed in the world of Ab Fab. Eddie and Patsy still can’t manage the simplest aspects of modern living which now includes being hopeless at tweeting and using a Nespresso machine. Saffy is still dour, prickly and living at home (why?!), Gran is still a wily old coot and Bubbles’ outfits still don’t resemble anything that a normal person would consider.
Most significantly, despite all the various scrapes over the years, Eddie and Patsy has learnt absolutely nothing.
The first half of this mercilessly short hour-and-a-half movie is actually quite fun, especially for fans. There’s a lot to enjoy in Eddie and Patsy’s crazy world, including the mad clothes and the indulgence of their total narcissism. And there are cameos galore from old faces — almost everyone pops in for a hello — and plenty of fresh ones from the likes of Lily Cole to Alexa Chung to Jon Hamm.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie was clearly designed to appeal to existing fans — newcomers will find themselves left out in the cold with the copious nods and reference points to the original series.
But as the flick moves along, probably around the time when a regular episode would wind up, it starts to collapse in on the weight of trying to justify its own existence. The more it tries to raise the stakes, spinning into new levels of absurdity, the more boring it becomes. And boring is not something that you want to associate with Ab Fab.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie could’ve been a hilarious meditation on ageing, fame and the desperate human desire to be relevant, but except for a couple of rare moments of clarity, it’s as shallow as Eddie and Patsy.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is out in cinemas on Thursday, August 4.
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