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A Simple Favor (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

A Simple Favor


Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Ian Ho, Bashir Salahuddin, Joshua Satine, Andrew Rannells, Aparna Nancherla, Jean Smart, Linda Cardellini, Kelly McCormack, Rupert Friend, Jiah Mavji, Ava LaFramboise, Dustin Milligan, Danielle Bourgon, Gia Sandhu, Lila Yee, Patti Harrison and Jason Oliveira.

Screenplay by Jessica Sharzer.

Directed by Paul Feig.

Distributed by Lionsgate. 116 minutes. Rated R.

I walked into this film with low expectations. The trailer was off-putting, leaving me unsure if I was walking into a dark comedy or drama. It seemed a bit too slick to be a comedy and the chosen trailer dialogue, while witty, seemed a bit contrived. Even the trailer music seemed a bit too over the top.

Although I like both Anna Kendrick (Stephanie) and Blake Lively (Emily), they’ve both had some hits and misses at the box office. The pair have built a playful Twitter relationship that my daughter has shared with me, but they seemed potentially too mis-matched for the big screen.

I am happy to say that from the opening credits A Simple Favor took the kitsch straight to dark comedy world (think Susie homemaker motif with knives). It jumps straight into Stephanie’s vlog entry, five days after her best friend, Emily, has gone missing.

Stephanie is THAT mom. The one who volunteers for everything, seems to have never-ending single mom energy. She doesn’t seem judgmental but is being judged by everyone else (who makes meatless Swedish Meatballs???). Her vlog is perky but practical, just like her, down to the “oopsy jar” for curse word penalties, for goodness sake.

Emily is the counter THAT mom. Career woman. Never in attendance at school functions. Never volunteers for anything at school. Barely picks up her kid. She curses and drinks, is bombshell beautiful with the wardrobe to match. She never apologizes and oozes charisma.

She is unfiltered, yet an enigma to everyone, including her husband Sean (played by Henry Golding). The couple have heat, but are snide with one another, backhandedly remarking on her lack of homebody skills and his inability to write a second novel.

The women are brought together by their sons, begging to have a playdate. At first Emily is reluctant but gives in to her son Nicky’s pressure (played by Ian Ho, his character is every bit as feisty as his mom). Emily invites Miles (played by Joshua Satine) and Stephanie to their beautiful home for drinks. The women bond as would be expected when you have a character like Stephanie encounter a player like Emily and mix it with martinis.

Throughout the twists and turns, we learn more about the characters and watch their backstories develop, leading to their inevitable place in A Simple Favor’s present. There are a host of secondary characters that add to the humor and overall character development of our leads.

My only complaint about A Simple Favor is the jumpy, odd timeline.  The story feels like it takes place over a matter of days, when maybe it is weeks or months? On a positive note, it adds to the surreal feel of the film, which adds to the dark humor, even when the story feels like relationships have developed far quicker than they should.

Paul Feig (who did the Ghostbusters reboot) directs this smart, fun story. The screenplay was written by Jessica Sharzer (Nerve), based on the novel by Darcey Bell. I am so curious to read the novel after watching the film, to see if it is even half as funny and intriguing as the film’s rendering. I also cannot wait to pick up the quirky, French lounge pop-based soundtrack on vinyl. Yep, this film really played to what I like.

P.S. The film earns its R rating for language, sexuality, lots of adult content, and super creepy dead body dredged from the lake. Gross.

Overall, my friend and I walked out of the theater pleasantly surprised by A Simple Favor. I look forward to re-watching it in the future, after I have read the book.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: September 14, 2018.

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