A Simple Favor (2018)
Directed by: Paul Feig
Written by: Jessica Sharzer & Darcey Bell
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Jean Smart, Rupert Friend & Bashir Salahuddin
Every six months or so, there comes a film that takes me slightly by surprise. It may be better than I thought it was going to be or not nearly as good as I’d hoped it would be or I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, etc, etc. ‘A Simple Favor‘ is a film that certainly surprised me but only because it wasn’t really the type of film I thought I’d be seeing. If you saw the preview, then I assume you thought. as I did. that we were getting a murder mystery type flick with the audience remaining unsure as to who our protagonist (in this case, Anna Kendrick) could trust until the very end. Instead, we get a semi-mysterious, lightly comedic film with a good deal of intrigue containing a rather fun plot. Let me explain: Anna Kendrick plays single super mom Stephanie Smothers who, while taking her son on an impromptu play date, ends up sipping martinis and befriending her son’s friend’s mother Emily Nelson (played by Blake Lively). After a few weeks of play dates and sharing secrets over martinis at Emily’s immense home, Emily asks Stephanie for “a simple favor” – watch her son while she goes out of town for a business emergency. After several days go by without Emily returning, Stephanie finally contacts Emily’s husband Sean Townsend (Henry Golding) who was in England helping his mother at the time of Emily’s disappearance. When Emily turns up dead, things move forward quickly and Stephanie finds herself embroiled in a mystery of trying to find out just who Emily really was, why she disappeared so suddenly and what actually happened to her. To say much more would spoil certain plot points and you know that I wouldn’t do that to you.
Some movies can’t seem to make up their mind as to what type of movie they want to be. ‘A Simple Favor’ was dark and had great elements of humor in it (mostly due to Anna Kendrick’s character being such a perfect fit for this role) but it wasn’t what I would classify as a “dark comedy” in the vein of ‘War Of The Roses‘ or ‘Very Bad Things‘. It’s also technically not a “who done it?” type of film in that we get a reveal fairly fast as to what exactly happened. So where this might be a detriment for some films, ‘A Simple Favor’ uses this to its advantage and is able to straddle the dark aspect of the story without ever totally going ‘Diabolique‘ and also retains some fantastic humor without ever getting campy. For this, I have to not only credit the cast but also director Paul Feig and writers Jessica Sharzer and Darcey Bell. The plot itself, upon viewing, may not be terribly original, but the execution of the tale is where this movie rises above the pack. Add a strong cast that play to their strengths and you’ve got a fun mystery that is quite the palate cleanser from the normal crop of movies that come out towards the end of the summer season. I’d recommend this movie for anyone who is a fan of the actors or for anyone interested in a change of pace from the normal September box office type fare. Grab your tickets, get yourself a cocktail and spend some time with Anna & Blake this weekend. All the cool kids are doing it!