Somehow… this is one of the oddest, yet most compelling pairings I’ve ever seen in a movie. I don’t know why, but I feel like Kendrick and Lively would be a wonderful duo and would work great off of each other. Maybe I’m just a fanboy. What can I say?
The story looks like it’s about one woman, who is a regular, middle-class mom and then somehow strikes up a friendship with an upper class woman. Then suddenly, the upper class woman disappears and the police get involved.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Anna Kendrick (PITCH PERFECT , 2 , and 3 , THE ACCOUNTANT , and the upcoming TROLLS WORLD TOUR ) and Blake Lively (THE SHALLOWS , GREEN LANTERN , and the upcoming THE RHYTHM SECTION ). In support, we have Linda Cardellini (DADDY’S HOME 2 , AVENGERS: ULTRON , SCOOBY DOO  and MONSTERS UNLEASHED , and upcoming films HUNTER KILLER  and THE CURSE OF LA LLORNA ), Jean Smart (THE ACCOUNTANT, and upcoming films LIFE ITSELF  ad BRAMPTON’S OWN ), Rupert Friend (THE DEATH OF STALIN , HITMAN 2 , and the upcoming AT ETERNITY’S GATE ), and Henry Golding (CRAZY RICH ASIANS , and the upcoming MONSOON ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Paul Feig, known for GHOSTBUSTERS (2016), SPY (2015), and THE HEAT (2013). Penning the screenplay is Jessica Sharzer, known for NERVE (2016). Composing the score is Theodore Shapiro, known for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (2017), COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), SPY, and upcoming films DESTROYER (2018) and SPIES IN DISGUISE (2019). The cinematographer is John Schwartzman, known for FIFTY SHADES 3 (2018). THE BOOK OF HENRY (2017), JURASSIC WORLD (2015), and the upcoming Jurassic World 3 (2021). Finally, the editor is Brent White, known for GHOSTBUSTERS, SPY, and THE HEAT.
Overall, I think I’m going to like this. Great talent, in front of and behind the camera, although this does feel like another GEMINI (2018). Let’s see how right or wrong I am.
This is my honest opinion of: A SIMPLE FAVOR
Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a mild-mannered single mother who has her own vlog channel where she has helpful mom-related stuff, like cooking and other things. Her son Miles (Joshua Satine) befriends Nicky Nelson (Ian Ho), the son of the beautiful, wealthy, aggressively private, and mean-spirited Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), and the two polar opposite personalities somehow strike an unorthodox friendship. However, things take a turn for the worse when Emily disappears for several days and after a grueling search by the authorities, Emily turns up… dead in a rental car. However, after Nicky claims to have seen his mother, as well as getting an ominous phone call from her, it’s unclear if Emily is still alive, or if Stephanie is suffering from a combination of grieving for her best friend and guilt-ridden for past sins.
At last, a legitimately good movie from the week. By God I needed this.
As per usual, neither Kendrick, nor Lively disappoint. Kendrick is about as adorable as can be and Stephanie has a delightful arch by the end of the story. I won’t give anything away here, but it’s perfectly paced, perfectly explained, and quite honestly, bad-ass. I love how Kendrick can go from unsuspecting innocent middle class mom to this sexy super sleuth and make it work wonders. And Lively. Holy shit, she is pure gravity. I don’t know what it is about the choices she’s made in the last few years, but her projects seem to always show off how beautiful she is without sacrificing her wealth of talent, making sure that her looks are always secondary to her character and she’s absolutely great. In fact, this might be her best performance that I’ve seen out of her. Shameless, unfiltered, sadistically playful, the textbook example of a character that you love to hate and hate to love all rolled into one.
This nitpick will in no way affect my opinion of the flick, but… Emily’s clothes fit Stephanie? Um… I call foul, because Lively is a fairly statuesque woman and Kendrick is… small. She’s short. Like really short. 5’2. I can’t believe that Lively’s 5’10 clothes would fit Kendrick’s fun-sized frame. Just calling it. This is not an actual complaint, it’s just hilarious that this movie expects me to believe that.
However, I do have one complaint. I thought the romance that blooms between Stephanie and Sean (Henry Golding) was a little too spontaneous. I don’t know if this is how it is in the book, but it’s kind of a groaner. I mean, I don’t think Emily’s body was even cold yet before their affair began. I’m pretty sure even the movie makes a comment like that, but acknowledging an unlikable quality in someone doesn’t make it clever, it just acknowledging a flaw in the characters. Having the romance is fine, but some measure of time going to have that relationship explored would have gone a long way to make it a bit more believable.
Overall, this was a fun light thriller. Fun characters, great acting and story, it’s nearly a perfect package of that is enjoyable the whole way through. As a recommendation, I would say that it’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you’re a fan of the cast. I can’t say how faithful it is to the book, but casual movie goers will get a kick out of this bat-shit insane ride.
My honest rating for A SIMPLE FAVOR: a strong 4/5
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