MOVIE REVIEW: ‘A Simple Favor’ Starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively

Release Date: September 14, 2018
Running Time: 1 hour and 57 minutes
Rated R For sexual content and language throughout, some graphic nude images, drug use and violence
Directed By: Paul Feig
Grade: B

We All Have Secrets To Hide

Stephanie Smothers is a widow and therefore a single mother. Living off her deceased spouse’s life insurance money, Stephanie hosts a housekeeping vlog that shares household tips and recipes during the days while her son, Miles, is at elementary school. One day she meets Emily Nelson through the friendship that her son shares with Emily’s son Nicky. Emily invites her to their home for drinks while their children play.

Emily’s candid personality draws Stephanie out of her shell as they share intimate details about themselves, including their secrets. Despite Emily’s candid demeanor, Stephanie begins to realize that Emily is an extremely private person. Emily gets very upset when Stephanie takes a photo of her with a digital camera. After a few weeks of getting to know each other, Stephanie feels like Emily is her best friend. Especially since the rest of the full-time mothers and one father shy away from her due to her eagerness to over participate in the classroom’s volunteer duties.

As Stephanie is preparing for her son’s school day, Emily calls to ask for a simple favor. The favor is to pick Nicky up from school since she will be arriving home late from her job in the city and her husband Sean is out of the country. When Emily fails to pick up Nicky from Stephanie’s house after a few days, Stephanie reaches out to Sean to let him know that something may be amiss with Emily.

She uses her blog to advertise the disappearance of Emily and gets a lead that Emily was sited in Michigan. Shortly after the disappearance is solved, Stephanie develops a relationship with Sean. While she is moving Emily’s belongings out and her things in, mysterious activities lead her to believe that more is going on than meets the eye. Stephanie follows clue after clue to unearth the mysteries behind the enigma that is Emily Nelson.

“If you apologize again, I will have to slap the silly out of you.”

Paul Feig’s first dramatic thriller since his directorial debut in 2004 with I Am David, is an 117 minute intense and highly entertaining roller coaster ride. His background with comedy films such as Bridemaids, The Heat, and Spy does shine through in the banter between two characters as they quickly comprise a very unlikely friendship. Although, I believe that the natural talent of the lead actresses (Kendrick and Lively) and the actor on the rise (Golding) heavily contribute to the perfect timing and incredible chemistry that the trio share on the big screen. Their amazing performances combined with the unique dialogue simply drew me in as though I was spying on the lives of these characters. The plot is perfectly revealed through in the moment scenes as well as flashbacks. The twists and turns are creatively unraveled through the view point of Kendrick’s character which highlights Kendrick’s quirky bubbly nature pitted against Lively’s straightforward and much stronger personality. Golding is the charismatic and handsome string that ties them together. If you are an avid book reader and have read the novel by Darcey Bell, I must warn you that the screenplay writer, Jessica Sharzer, takes quite a few liberties with the source material. Having not read the book, I found that the entire experience was quite enjoyable and consider this film to be one of the best that has been released thus far this year. I just have one simple favor to ask of you, enter the world of Stephanie Smothers and you will not regret it. Go see it!              ~ Movie Buffette

“She does not know she is working for free?”

A Simple Favor is an excellent adaptation of the book by Darcey Bell. From the opening scene with Stephanie and her live vlog to the end, it kept you engaged. You had to pay attention to keep up with the twisty plot in this suspenseful dramedy.

Director Paul Feig, famous for Bridesmaids and Spy, shows us he is just as good with his stylish post-modern film noir. I enjoyed everything about the film. The ensemble was superb.  Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick were perfectly cast for their roles and newcomer Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) demonstrates that he is one to watch. He has the talent and looks to carry a film.

They are supported by a talented cast, including young actors Ian Ho as Nicky Townsend-Nelson and Joshua Satine as Miles Smothers. Andrew Rannells’ character Darren provided a lot of comic relief to the scenes.

The costume designers did an excellent job with the wardrobe, especially for Blake and Anna’s roles. The sound quality and mixing are excellent as well. It really caught my attention when Emily stepped out of her vehicle in the parking during the rain.

A Simple Favor is a well-crafted story that is highly enjoyable so make plans to see it in theaters. ~ A.S. MacLeod

“Secrets are like margarine. Easy to spread, bad for the heart”

Anna Kendrick as Stephanie Smothers
Blake Lively as Emily Nelson
Henry Golding as Sean Townsend
Andrew Rannells as Darren
Kelly McCormick as Stacy
Rupert Friend as Dennis Nylon
Jean Smart as Margaret McLanden
Ian Ho as Nicky Townsend-Nelson
Joshua Satine as Miles Smothers
Bashir Salahuddin as Detective Summerville

About Leigh Ann Rassler