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Faboulosly Un-Fabulous

I've said this several times, and I'll repeat myself again: there's not a worse experience at the cinema than sitting through bad comedy. To me, it is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, or getting a filling at the dentists office. It's painful, torturous and near-exhausting to sit in a dark room, unamused by the jokes and hi jinks on-screen, praying to yourself that this movie ends quickly before you just decide to walk out and do something more productive with your time. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is one of those times where bad comedy drives me up the wall and groan incisively thought the 85 minute run time.

For those who didn't religiously watch AbFab during its run during the early to mid-90's on BBC, PBS or re-runs on Comedy Central (or when it was revived from 2001-2004), here's the gist of it: two middle-aged women, Edina (Jennifer Saunders, who is also producer and co-creator of the series) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), spend their days chasing the latest fashion trends and designer outfits in London in an attempt to reclaim their glory days as Mods during the 60's. Both women are heavy smokers, can drink Mel Gibson under the table several times over and constantly find new ways to get into trouble and have Eddy's under appreciated daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha), bail them out.

The show worked thanks to the writing from Saunders, the comedic rapport between her and Lumley and the funny, sharp satire on fashion and celebrity culture, and my mother and I enjoyed going to Blockbuster Video to purchase rentals of the series on rainy days. The film version is more or less the same thing: Eddy and Patsy are still eternally searching to stay eternally young and fabulous, while Saffron is trying to clean up the pair's latest mess, which is pretty much the overarching problem with the film version: we've seen this episode played out dozens of times, and the latest spin on things has lost its edge and humor.

Yeah, there's a bigger story to all of this: This time, Eddy and Patsy attend a fashion show in an attempt to wrangle Kate Moss to join the former's PR company in a last-ditch attempt to rescue it from going under, only to accidentally knock her off the balcony into the Thames River, creating an over-sensationalized national scandal as her body never re-appears. With the pair now pegged as murders, Eddy and Patsy are on the lam as they exile themselves to French Rivera, her granddaughter Lola (and her money) in tow, to find a fabulously wealthy suitor to bamboozle into holy matrimony so they have live out their golden years in style.

No, seriously - that's the "plot" of the movie: Eddy and Patsy exploit a young teenage girl into acting as their financial accomplice in a potential manslaughter case as they flee from the law, all in another attempt to stay young and retain their self-obsessed and self-indulgent lifestyle. Pardon me if I'm not yukking it up. The overarching theme of Eddy and Patsy struggling to cope with getting older and feelings of emptiness were funny on the TV series because the audience could relate to them feeling like a relic from an age that's passed them by with almost nothing to show for it except their vices. It was fun to watch Eddy and Patsy fight to stay young in their 50's when the show began, but seeing them continue this charade in their 60's in this film version isn't funny or charming, it's just downright sad and pathetic.

And that's my problem with AbFab: The Movie: the jokes and the antics have been played out by this point. We've seen the pair run around and try to recapture their glory days as hot shit in the London fashion scene and by this point, it's just more of the same, but instead of hilarity supposedly ensuing, the humor takes a dark and mean-spirited turn with the subplot of using Saffron's daughter's money to flee the country and bleed her dry. The tongue-in-cheek satire on celebrity culture and how the media sensationalizes tragic stories feels like a constant brick to the face, and while Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are clearly having a ball revisiting these characters, the results are more irritating, obnoxious and deeply shallow rather than endearing. This is the worst comedy of the summer, far and away, and right there with the equally obnoxious and stupid Independence Day: Resurgence for the worst movie I've seen in 2016. Sadly, the conga line of dismal summer pictures doesn't end here, as I take on the less-than-stellar return of one Jason Bourne.

Zero stars out of ****


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