A Simple Favor - Movie Review by Ben Cahlamer

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A Simple Favor


Directed by Paul Feig

Screenplay by Jessica Sharzer Based on “A Simple Favor” by Darcey Bell

Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells


I love me a good mystery. I love me a good mystery even more when the plot points aren’t obvious, a good curve ball comes at you out of left field, and when comedy is a central element in the film.

Are you with me?  Good!

Then check out “A Simple Favor”.  The End.

Wait a minute!  Why is that the end? Wasn’t there supposed to be a plot and characters and everything else that goes in to making a film?

Okay, I’ll give.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is the PERFECT mommy. She raises her son, Miles and she has a blog where she offers tips and tricks for the other mommies in their suburban Connecticut community; she is an absolute ball of energy. She meets Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), a powerful ad executive who is more interested in keeping herself sedated then taking care of her son, Nicky. When Emily disappears suddenly, Stephanie steps up to the plate to uncover the truth.

After the disastrous “Ghostbusters,” one might have wondered what was up Paul Feig’s sleeves next. It turns out that Darcey Bell’s “A Simple Favor” was the answer. Jessica Sharzer’s (‘The L Word,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘Nerve’) script is razor sharp, infusing the hallmarks of a good solid mystery like “Diabolique” or “Gone Woman” with the humor of Cohen brothers or Gregory McDonald (“Fletch”).

In fact, “Fletch” was most on my mind as this story unfolded. Kendrick is a gem as the spunky, plucky Stephanie. She’s so perfect that the other mommies and daddies are scared. The character’s use of the  blog to offer updates on the ongoing investigation is where Kendrick shines.

That, and when she is with Blake Lively’s Emily Nelson. When they are together, film magic happens.

Stephanie is very reserved and Emily brings her out of her shell like it was nothing. Emily is the very definition of a bad girl. But she cares about Nicky and she cares about her husband Sean (Henry Golding, “Crazy Rich Asians”). As the story unfolds, Emily is still very much a part of the mystery, so don’t count her out just yet. Scene stealer!

The beauty of Feig’s direction is that we never know which direction the characters are going in next, but the constant updates from Stephanie keep us on track. In fact, as she gets deeper into solving Emily’s disappearance, she becomes even bolder.

Now, I haven’t seen David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” yet. In fact, the shrunk wrapped Blu ray is still sitting in my closet collecting dust (that story will never solve itself, BEN!)

…oh, sorry; that darned inner monologue again…

As I was saying, despite not having seen “Gone Girl,” I can say with confidence that Fincher’s imprimatur was imparted on Feig, the cast and the story.

If I had to put a mental image of the film in your head, it could be best described as a young kid skipping rocks on a smooth lake, each wave caressing the other as they dissipate. As the mystery deepens, the waves of Stephanie’s investigate have far reaching, and hilarious consequences.

Do me “A Simple Favor” and see it. You won’t regret it.

3.75 out of 4