Sixty is the new 40, 90 is the new 70, and Jennifer Saunders’ Edina and Joanna Lumley’s fall guy are back, along with Edina’s aging mother, played by June Whitfield. the less-than-dynamic duo make a characteristically wobbly, hungover comeback in heels, champagne flutes in one hand and cigarettes in the other. no nonsense about vaping.
it’s as if they appeared here through a wormhole from the 1990s, arriving in 2016 for our summer of no love, making an entrance into the game in a country where the recent referendum has caused depression in hearts than 100% of those who voted. patsy and edina are here on an honorable mission to cheer us on, bless them. and a good part of the time they are successful.
It’s impossible to watch Joanna Lumley’s expression of suppressed disdain and nausea without laughing, and so does Saunders’ childish pout of dismay and incomprehension. It’s always so much fun when they have to run. Halfway through the film, they embark on a crazy and almost logical race to the south of France, using a low-cost airline. not needing a visa was a blessing.
This is a broad, goofy, pleasantly silly British comedy made possible by the colossal commercial success of the in-between movies: movies based on British TV shows can do well at the box office. It’s basically 50 minutes of material stretched to 90 in a chain of cameos, including Christopher Biggins (of course), Judith Chalmers, Graham Norton, and Barry Humphries. Orla Guerin and Jeremy Paxman make their own contributions to good sport. There are also, of course, like in the Zoolander sequel, heavyweight stuntmen from many fashion stores, including Alexa Chung, Stella McCartney, and of course Kate Moss herself.
fashion people are absolutely kryptonite for comedy, of course. The movie becomes less funny with every syllable Stella is allowed to say, and Kate is utterly, uncompromisingly rigid in a commanding way that commands a kind of respect. His recent mishaps irl with easyjet stewardess “basic bitch” clearly inspired the scene here in which patsy confronts a dead-eyed budget airline stewardess played, inevitably, by the rebellious wilson.
the situation is that patsy and edina are in a bind. She may have to give up Eddie’s beautiful house in West London due to financial problems, and Edina doesn’t have any of what Patsy vaguely calls “money on hand.” saffy (julia sawalha) still lives with them, and has a teenage daughter with an ex-partner that our unscrupulous heroines try to exploit for fashion purposes.
And in 2016, no one cares about PR anymore. it no longer has the prestige it once had. and poor edina has yet to understand that in the world of instagram and twitter people are increasingly doing their own PR. Edina has a lousy client list that is limited to Lulu and Baby Spice (cameos, naturally) and a “boutique vodka”.
Her final crisis comes when she attends a party where Kate Moss is chatting with Jon Hamm. Patsy lewdly approaches Hamm, who looks at her blankly and then winces as she remembers how they met: “You took my virginity, leave me my sanity…” she groans. but there is a catastrophe involving kate moss and edina and patsy have to flee.
joanna lumley basically saves this movie: she has undying arrogance and comedic charisma. she is the garden bridge that prevents this film from collapsing into the thames. You don’t need silly cameos when you have Lumley. the scene at the beginning when she gets botox injected into her face is sensational. nicolas winding refn must be kicking himself, he didn’t have that in his horror thriller genre, the neon demon.