Suspension of Disbelief

In the 1991 trash cult classic noir film Basic Instinct, the character of Catherine Trammel as played by Sharon Stone has a line that’s meant to sound pretentiously overly-educated but gets flipped by the necessary comedic save that those kinds of self-important utterances need to really be memorable.  In the back of a police car, Catherine is talking to the two detectives in the front about being a writer of novels, and how when you make stuff up all the time it has to be believable… “they” call it “suspension of disbelief.” Meat-n-Taters cop slyly says: “Aint that somethin’, suspension of disbelief.” Catherine just smiles like she’s in on the joke. Memorable scene. At least for me.

So one week to the day I saw #abfabmovie on its opening, I took another friend to see it last night in Lincoln Center. I admit I wasn’t impressed with the movie the first time, and as I have outlined here before it was mainly due to my over-expectation.  Yes, I set myself up like a kid on Christmas Eve.  The chances for such moments are but few so I took it and ran with it. But a mixture of my longtime love for Patsy and Edina and the overly critical eye of a connoisseur of quality were a train wreck waiting to happen. Shoulda known better. I had a week to stew about it. Then, about ten minutes into the film for the second time I had a bit of a realization. Movies themselves, good or bad, are all just escapism. Unreality versus what’s waiting out on the street. Do I really think that the Patsy drinking from a Chanel No. 5 bottle joke is such an insult to me as the viewer, being that it’s been done twice already, once on Ab Fab the series and once on the Roseanne sitcom? I understand it’s for the benefit of those in the audience who haven’t seen that particular scenario yet.  And I understand the plethora of cameos were both favors called in and sentiment on the part of Jennifer Saunders.  Personally, I could have done without Jerry Hall’s FIVE MINUTES of talking about how much Chanel she wears. I think those five minutes should have been given to Saffy, who hasn’t changed a bit, not even her old cardigan. Marshall becoming transgender?  Pushing the envelope of timely satire, but once again, I UNDERSTAND why all these characters need their five minutes of screen time.  So I watched for the second time perhaps with a more lenient eye, remembering why I loved this show so much in the first place. It WAS over the top and dare I say surreal in a way that was and is pure escapism. As a viewer of these people doing what they do, consuming as many drugs as possible with no tomorrows and seemingly unlimited credit and only wrist-slap consequences to their debauchery, one has to suspend their disbelief or else it wouldn’t be as funny as it was and is. And as a former drunken hussy myself I can both sympathize and empathize with the plight of Patsy and Edina and their distaste for the mundane and predictable.  So, I enjoyed as best as I could and found a few laughs along the way.  My lifelong image of Patsy and Edina cannot be skewed by one little old movie.  I actually do hope there’s a sequel, maybe even another season. What the fuck, right?  Can’t be much worse than what’s being produced now anyway.

I’ll close with a thought on slapstick. That’s real comedy. Vitameatavegamin and a pie in the face. A moment of escapism at someone else’s expense. Worth the price of admission. Patsy falling drunkenly into a grave or out of a car or Edina falling down some steps or off the toilet, those probably got me the most. Quick, easy, non-intellectual, but memorable. Audience #2, however, saved their biggest uproar for a split-second shot of a shocked Dame Edna in the pool at the Hotel du Cap on the French Riviera. Ah, the shocking power of infamy amongst gays and str8’s alike.  Jennifer Saunders said she only wrote this movie on a dare.  Enough said.  Don’t take yourself too seriously without downing a bottle of whiskey sweetie.  Like a bird on a wire, eventually you’ll fly away to a different perch unless you crash and die.  Cheers.

dame edna




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