So I will only partially recommend this title.
A Simple Favor (2018)
User ReviewsReview this title
So I will only partially recommend this title.
Not only was it bad (I guess that's just an opinion, but still), it was also a lot worse written, paced and acted than the rest of the movie, up to the point where the only explanation is that the producers or SOMEONE wanted the ending changed to... this. The movie would have been a lot better if it just ended half an hour earlier. The ending is one of the worst I have seen in years.
Director Paul Feig took the story from what appears to be a more serious book with very mixed reviews on Amazon and added humor and a bit of fun to the proceedings. The dark parts are appropriately lurid, but this isn't a dire slog. Witty dialogue and a game cast alleviate the proceedings.
Although Blake Lively does a great job as the mysterious woman who goes missing (and hats off to whoever designed her clothes, they are fantastic), this is Anna Kendricks' film. As the slightly oddball, mommy vlogger Stephanie Smothers, Kendricks has the part nailed down a both physically and verbally as she quirkily deals with people.
There are a couple flaws. The switch between drama and humor is a little jarring a in a few spots. The second act drags a little, and a few character decisions in the third act were rushed a bit.
Overall, I'd recommend this.
Its a perfect movie for a fun night out. The girls are amazing and movie is a complete fun to watch. Go See It!!!
Neurotic Mommy Vlogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a widowed mother to a young son, and she's the overly perky and perfect mom that causes other parents to sneer and snark behind her back. She's also so desperate for human connection that she's willing to befriend Emily (Blake Lively), the martini-guzzling fashion industry executive who is a hands-off mother to Stephanie's son's friend. We soon learn that martinis and playdates shouldn't be mixed.
Stephanie and Emily share dark, personal secrets. Emily discusses the financial woes she and her husband Sean (Henry Golding, CRAZY RICH ASIANS) are experiencing, even though they live in an ultra-modern mansion. He had success with his first novel, but has been hit with writer's block since marrying Emily. Those secrets pale in comparison to what Stephanie unloads, leading Emily to anoint her with a crass (though quite accurate) label that no one would relish. Of course we later uncover Emily's truly dark (and deadly) secrets go far beyond possible late payments on the mortgage.
As the two ladies bond, we get the feeling that Emily is playing some type of game with the always-cheerful Stephanie, though to what end we aren't sure. One day, Stephanie does Emily a "favor" and then Emily disappears without a trace or word. The days pass and a sexual energy develops between Stephanie and Sean, while Stephanie users her Vlog as a tool in her amateur sleuthing.
It's tough enough to pull off a mystery, but a mystery-comedy is nearly the unicorn of cinema. Director Feig is at his best in the comedic moments - especially those featuring banter between Ms. Kendrick and Ms. Lively. Their scenes together are the highlights of the film ... well, those and the French pop soundtrack, including "Ca S'est Arrange" over an opening credit sequence that is itself, worthy of admission. The film is oddly structured, yet still entertaining. Act I is really a dark comedy and budding friendship between polar opposite personality types, while the rest is a messy mystery with some interesting elements.
Strong support work comes courtesy of Andrew Rannells, Aparla Nancherla, Kelly McCormack, and Jean Smart, though two standouts are Rupert Friend ("Homeland") as Emily's boss and a character seemingly straight out of ZOOLANDER, and Linda Cardellini ("Bloodlines") as an unhinged artist tied to Emily's past. The downside is that most of these scenes add to the comedy-sketch feel, which clashes so harshly with the mystery element that the sharp edge needed in the script becomes quite dulled.
Most every director dreams of being Hitchcockian, and that dream tends to push them towards this genre. Unfortunately, most end up disappointed, their films end up disappointing, and the genius and difficulty of what Hitchcock achieved is reinforced. It's clear Director Feig is a fan of the genre, as he includes nods to DIABOLIQE, GASLIGHT, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and even Nancy Drew. However, acknowledging classic noir isn't enough to qualify for the label. The film has its moments, Ms. Kendrick is once again stellar in her role, and most viewers will find it entertaining despite the messiness.
Based on the novel by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favour follows Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a widowed, single mum who runs a mommy blog. Her goody two-shoes personality makes her pariah amongst the other parents. One day, on a playdate for their children, she befriends Emily (Blake Lively), a chic, elegant woman whose everything she is not. Before long they become best friends, and when Emily disappears, Stephanie steps out of her shell to solve the mystery.
Anna Kendrick stars in a role perfectly attuned to her goofy charms and Blake Lively convincingly embodies the enigmatic nature of her character in a crucial supporting role. Henry Golding, hot off Crazy Rich Asians, gets the rough end of the deal playing Emily's husband, a character who, while not entirely likeable, is cruelly used and manipulated by the two female protagonists throughout the film. It's disheartening to see that the film's message of female empowerment often comes as a result of emasculating its primary male character. In fact, the film's regressive approach to bolstering its two strong female leads does the film a great disservice.
The only consistency between all the characters is that none of them are particularly likeable. They each make questionable decisions, are gratingly self-centered and become increasingly obnoxious as the film progresses with its dubious twists. By the end, you'll be hard pressed to care about any of them. This is no more evident than in the film's tacked on "where are they now?' postscript that feels completely unnecessary and ill informed in assuming audiences care enough about the characters to know where they end up.
On the upside, Feig, who is more proficient in making fun films rather than serious ones, keeps the film feeling light and easy-going. He knowingly teases the audience with a stylish soundtrack filled with classy French music, and there are some funny scenes that incite light chuckles rather than any laugh out loud bursts of humour. These meager positives don't improve the stillborn narrative but at least they make it a little less painful to digest.
Ultimately, A Simple Favour is a strange blend of mystery and comedy that doesn't gel into a cohesive whole. As a piece of entertainment, it's entirely disposable. As a thriller, well, imagine Gone Girl as directed by Paul Feig. Or better yet, don't.