A Simple Favor



14 September 2018| Comments Off on A Simple Favor     by Sean Chavel


Paul Feig has proved to be one of the better slapstick/farce directors in today’s Hollywood (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” “Spy”). A Simple Favor shows that he can direct good old fashioned suspense. Not that he has stopped his actors from experimenting with the loose-tongues, the spazz attacks, the awkward social humor that borders on the embarrassing or the gross. Feig is such a good director that he makes all of it organic.

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively get a sparkling and slightly wicked star vehicle out of it, too. Kendrick is Stephanie, the dorky, tightly-buttoned single mom, the kind of chirpy, over eager type that’s perfectly Anna Kendrick. On the other hand, Lively is Emily, a high-styled cosmopolitan woman who’s a barely committed mom, something wild, something snobby, still frisky wife with her husband Sean (Henry Golding). She let’s square Stephanie into her chic world. Their grade school kids get play dates together, but at every turn, you see envious Stephanie attempting to copy from Emily’s life because it’s more exciting than her own.

One day Emily asks for a simple favor, to watch her son. Stephanie does, and then she never hears from Emily that night, nor the next day. Sean is out of the country at the time.

What happens during the course of all its complicated plot wheels, is that “A Simple Favor” is doing a little riff on a 1955 French classic called “Diabolique” (No, it doesn’t borrow the famous bathtub ending). Stephanie gets interviewed by cops, and says all the wrong things. Then, out of need to tie up all loose ends, she starts playing detective on her own. She also lets Sean make a pretty amorous move on her, only because Emily’s corpse shows up in a Michigan lake. Stephanie though is too fussy to not dig up more clues, and she shares them all on an internet Vlog. Yes, the way it’s done, the way Kendrick is so obsessive-compulsive, the Vlog broadcast scenes are funny.

But all is not what it seems. All the convoluted plot mechanics are less smooth than, let’s say, “Gone Girl.” But Feig moves his unpretentious B-plot brashly and he has an organized eye for it (you’re never lost). And while I don’t think there’s many shivers to be had for a hardened moviegoer, I’d say the unraveling of this mystery is involving to say the least, yet it’s Feig’s way with comedy that makes “A Simple Favor” a hoot.

119 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Diabolique” (1955, France); “Bound” (1996); “Love Crime” (2011; France); “Gone Girl” (2014).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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