Movie Review: A Simple Favor

 

A SIMPLE FAVOR REVIEW

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Henry Golding
Directed By: Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters – 2016)
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 57 minutes

          Based on the novel of the same name from Darcey Bell that came out last year, A Simple Favor is a murder mystery.  Through and through.  It is directed by Paul Feig who gave us Bridesmaids, the under rated comedy Spy, and he had the audacity to make girls Ghostbusters a couple years ago.  He’s a comedic director.  His stars Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are funny women.  On screen and off.  Lively has never really had this opportunity to show her comedic skills before, but in interviews and talk shows she’s very funny.  So with all the comedic talent on set, they decided to use it in the movie as well.  So you have a movie that is a thriller with moments of big laughs.

          In doing so, it feels original.  It feels slightly different.  The movie also shies away from the look of a typical murder mystery.  It’s very bright and colorful where most movies like this are drab and dark.  So it looks soothing as well.  Everything combined makes you feel warm and happy.

          Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie, a suburban mom with a video blog that can do it all.  Cook, clean, volunteers at school.  Her kid has the healthy snacks.  She’s the typical overachiever.  Blake Lively plays Emily, a mom that isn’t trying that hard with a demanding job in the big city.  The two could not be more opposite.  But their kids get along at school, and want to play together.  So it forces interaction and a friendship between the two women.  We come to find out that Emily has a very dark past.

          I won’t say any more than that.  I promise.  But I really really enjoyed this movie.  It’s entertaining.  It kept me guessing throughout.  I laughed a lot.  I gasped a lot.  And it didn’t go to a real violent place like Gone Girl or other movies like that went.  It stays pretty tame in terms of violent imagery.

          The thing I loved most about A Simple Favor was at times it felt like an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.  Parts of this movie SCREAM North By Northwest.  A person hunting down answers, alone and confused.  So many people try to mimic what Hitchcock did and it falls flat.  Not here.  This really felt like a modern Hitchcock story.

          The two main actresses are terrific.  Anna Kendrick plays the adorable quirky awkward girl perfect as always.  Blake Lively gets to be funny, dramatic, mean, evil, and everything in-between.  Girl’s got range!  Henry Golding who just made women swoon last month in Crazy Rich Asians is well casted as Blake Lively’s husband.  Blake Lively’s real life husband Ryan Reynolds also haunts the background of this movie.  There are no less than six scenes where a martini is made using Aviation Gin, the company owned by Reynolds.  Label always out.  Always prominent.  It’s a fun wink to the viewer.  If you get it, you get it.  If you don’t, you’re not out anything.

          A Simple Favor is an intelligent, humorous thriller that doesn’t always bend to typical thriller tropes.  The story will surprise you as it twists and turns, and the filmmaking will surprise you as it easily navigates this tight rope act of genre bending.

On a "See It/Stream It/Skip It" scale, I would definitely say See It.  Young, old, man, woman, there's something for everyone in this one.

If you liked North By Northwest, Gone Girl, or Bridesmaids you might enjoy A Simple Favor.

4 out of 5 stars

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