A SIMPLE FAVOR, centers around Stephanie (Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Golding) in this stylish thriller filled with twists and betrayals, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Lionsgate presents, a Lionsgate / Feigco Entertainment production.
What We Thought:
Somewhere in A Simple Favor is a fantastic movie. Like onions and ogres, the film has many layers. Unfortunately some of those layers are unnecessary and clutter the film.
It has some positives and I’ll start with those. Lead actresses Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are both good. Lively is a stylish, career driven wife and mother. Kendrick is a widowed mommy vlogger who does way too much at her kid’s school and says Sorry a lot. Emily likes to drink martinis and gets Stephanie to share her secrets. They shouldn’t be friends with their drastically different lifestyles, but Lively’s Emily befriends Kendrick’s Stephanie to the amazement of the other parents.
Then Emily disappears and leaves no trace behind her. Her husband, played by Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians, was overseas because of a medical emergency. Stephanie can’t get in touch with her and starts taking care of Emily’s son along with her own. Then the layers start peeling as the authorities get involve, Emily’s past comes up and so on.
I won’t spoil the one big secret Stephanie tells Emily, but it ends up being part of the film that works and doesn’t work at the same time. Emily makes up a nickname for Stephanie because of that secret and it gets used throughout the film. Unfortunately, that secret really doesn’t mean anything in the long run. It involves her dead husband and her brother but by the end, it doesn’t pay off in the slightest. You think there will be more to Stephanie’s involvement in that secret, but you’re left second guessing any of it. Because you second guess her involvement in that, you second guess her character so I guess that works a little, but not the way it should. The important secrets involve Lively’s character, not Kendrick’s so why even have this one?
I think that’s my biggest issue, all these layers and side storylines don’t connect like they should. The film seems to want to be a dark humored Gone Girl, but the twist comes too quickly and a lot of storylines don’t matter by the end of it especially involving Kendrick’s life. In it there is a great movie with great performances and a clever story, but it’s all too much at times.
Overall I think I at least liked A Simple Favor, but I know I should have loved it. The score is cool. The set design and costuming are cool. Director Paul Feig, best known for comedies, tries something different and I’ll give him credit for that. But ultimately it reminded me of Black Swan, where I expected a whole lot of crazy and only got a little crazy. Like that Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis film, I expected total craziness involving everyone at the end, but got just one person at the center of it all. With all the layers that got laid out in this movie, I definitely thought there would be more craziness spread out involving more characters. Oh well.
Cast & Crew:
- Blake Lively
- Anna Kendrick
- Director Paul Feig
- Jean Smart
- Linda Cardellini
- Andrew Rannells
- Henry Golding