A Simple Favor (2018)
Critic Consensus: Twisty, twisted, and above all simply fun, A Simple Favor casts a stylish mommy noir spell strengthened by potent performances from Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.
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Critic Reviews for A Simple Favor
It keeps you on the edge of your seat and, even at the end, you still can't believe the twists and turns that play out.
A deeply confused movie that feels like a mash-up of Mean Girls and an episode of Law and Order.
With its saucy French pop music and pastel Saul Bass-inspired credits, this film is so hungry to seem like a classic thriller that you come away charmed by its pure-hearted ambition.
Until an ending that flies ruinously off the rails, Paul Feig's bouncy comedy-thriller brings out the scrappy best in Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively and offers an unexpected take on the twists and turns of female friendship.
The performances by Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are so invigorating, so generous with pointed inflections and snappy gestures, that they fill the movie's good-humored, amply plotted emptiness.
Director Paul Feig doesn't seem able to decide whether he's making a slightly outré crime comedy, a blithely twisted relationship thriller, a brightly lit horror melodrama, or maybe an arch meta-take on all three.
Audience Reviews for A Simple Favor
Entertaining. I did like the dark humor and Blake Lively was perfect as the disturbed Emily. The bit at the end was the step too far, though.
Paul Feig has shown us before what an enviable talent he has for blending different genres, but here he truly outdoes himself, making a clever, twisty and always gripping film that makes us hold our breath as it moves so effortlessly from dark comedy to crime noir to even horror.
GO ON GIRLS - My Review of A SIMPLE FAVOR (3 Stars) Director Paul Feig has a reputation for getting great performances from women in his feature comedies, with BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT, and SPY earning him legendary status. When I heard he was tackling the thriller genre with screenwriter Jessica Sharzer's adaptation of Darcey Bell's novel, A SIMPLE FAVOR, and had cast Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in the leads, I'll admit I perked up and couldn't wait for its release. Despite a third act which goes way off the rails, it's a sleekly made, wonderfully performed, yet ultimately forgettable piece of pulp trash, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Kendrick plays Stephanie, an uptight Connecticut single mother who, when not doting on her cute son, keeps up a Cooking VLOG with a tiny audience. One day, while picking up her son at school, she has a close encounter with a Mommy of a different kind, played to BASIC INSTINCT perfection by Blake Lively. A case study in dead-eyed assertiveness, her Emily oozes strong-willed fashionista while Stephanie has her Tracy Flick ball of neuroses down pat. Quicker than you can say, "Play Date!" the women bond at Emily's gorgeous, angular home over martinis and swapped stories about their sordid pasts. Interrupting their sapphic splendor is Emily's husband Sean (CRAZY RICH ASIANS' Henry Golding). As a once successful writer who hasn't written in years, Sean just likes to have a lot of sex, whether it's with his wife or really, anybody else. The first act of the film does a terrific job of setting up the character dynamics. Stephanie has never had a friend quite like the outspoken, fearless Emily, and Emily seems to avoid friendships like the plague. Kendrick and Lively's push-pull relationship gives this section of the film a lot of zing. Kendrick is particularly endearing while dancing around Emily's house to some French pop music or when shyly testing the waters with her questions of her new friend. Lively can turn on a dime and cut her friend down to size whether it's when having her picture taken or when challenged too much about her past. In either case, both actors thrive in their roles. And then one day, after asking Stephanie to pick up her son from school, Emily disappears. Stephanie, worried about Emily and feeling bad for Sean, basically moves into their house to help raise their son and cook everybody her amazing meals. Stephanie also does all she can to find Emily, taking such Nancy Drew action steps as scanning through microfiche as the library and snooping around Emily's office. It's at the office, a NY Fashion Design empire, where we meet Dennis Nylon (HOMELAND's Rupert Friend), a designer who judges Stephanie for her GAP clothes while wearing the ugliest gay-signifying outfit I've seen in a film in decades. It's also here where it became more apparent that Feig and Co. seemed to be going for an UGLY BETTY tone instead of a more serious GONE GIRL style. It works on its own, but this movie still has a body count, so the combo becomes a little tough to take too seriously. And this is where I stop talking about the story. It has twists and turns, all of which tend to surprise until late in the game, things speed up and conclude with a ridiculous stunt straight out of ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. Now, we're in wacky comedy territory which just doesn't quite fit what preceded it. It also doesn't help that Golding is completely out of his depth here. Lively and Kendrick are heavyweights when it comes to owning the screen, whereas Golding...um...poses well? There's just nothing going on behind his eyes as if he were a bored actor on a 20-year soap tenure. This role required an actor who could project wildness and unpredictability and what we get is a soothing cup of chamomile tea. I'm also giving one slight demerit for the use of the song "Chick Habit". The English language version belonged to Tarantino's DEATH PROOF, so even though this version is in French, it struck me as lazy music supervision. Get your inspiration elsewhere! So, all told, this is a fizzy fun film with a very odd approach to female empowerment...but it's an approach nonetheless. Not a whole lot of nutso, kinda funny semi-tragic thrillers come down the pike, so go get it if that's your jam.
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