Based on the Darcey Bell Novel, A Simple Favor brings us a Comedy/Mystery like none I have ever seen before. Anna Kendrick plays single mom and enthusiastic vlogger Stephanie Smothers, as she tries to get to the bottom of the disappearance of her best friend Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). The problem is the Emily was a secretive person that no one knew very well. As Stephanie digs deeper into Emily’s past, she finds that the future is getting a lot more complicated. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
During the first scene of the movie, we are brought into one of Stephanie’s blogs. At this point, Emily has been missing for 5 days and we see how emotional she is about it. We then promptly go back a few weeks to the start of the story and go all the way through from there. There are also various flashbacks throughout that can sometimes be a little bit awkward to the flow of the plot. I personally think that the plot would’ve been smoother if it had more a straight beginning-to-end plot progression.
Though there wasn’t any nudity in this movie (thankfully), there was was some sexual content that was really just kind of weird and didn’t really add much to the film at all. The love scenes were just awkward and just didn’t really need to be there.
The only other thing I wanted to mention was how A Simple Favor couldn’t decide if it was trying to be a comedy or an intense thriller. There were moments where it was starting to get intense and then out of nowhere an element of slapstick comedy broke the mood. The confused nature of the style is not usually a good thing for a movie, however, I will say that I enjoyed the comedic moments a lot more than I expected.
Let’s start with the stars of the movie. Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are both stellar throughout and you can tell that they really bought into their characters. Blake Lively catwalks through the film in about a half dozen outfits that scream both old fashion and modern high class. I’m not a fashion guru but I can just imagine a fashion major absolutely drooling over Blake Lively’s look in certain parts of the film. Anna Kendrick didn’t have to go outside of her comfort zone so much as Blake but she was still fantastic. She played this bubbly and energetic single super-mom that none of the other parents really liked. She came across as kind of a “try hard” parent that made the other parents feel bad by comparison. Anna Kendrick’s character really drove the whole movie so a poor performance by her would’ve definitely made A Simple Favor pretty difficult to watch. Thankfully, she was very convincing and also had some pretty funny moments.
I mentioned in the other section how this movie couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a thriller or a comedy. While that kind of problem usually has a negative effect on a movie and I imagine many viewers will perceive it that way, I actually enjoyed the style. There some rather intense moments that had the audiences on the edge of their seat, and those were often offset by some elements of slapstick the allowed the audience to release some of that tension out.
Theodore Shapiro composed the score for A Simple Favor and I think he did a really nice job. He isn’t an extremely well known name in the movie world but he has done the score for many popular comedies in the past such as Semi-Pro, Tropic Thunder, Blades of Glory, We’re the Millers, etc. In addition, he has composed for more dramatic pieces such as Collateral Beauty and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I especially like what Shapiro’s score did for the suspenseful parts of the movie. The music really made the audience feel like a jump scare was coming at any time.
Overall, A Simple Favor does a good job of not being your typical thriller mystery while also not being your typical comedy. It is really one of the more unique movies I have seen this year and I had a fun time with it. However, it definitely earned its R-rating and thus limits the potential audience quite a bit. I would’ve like to see this movie eliminate some of the sexual content and try to cut down on the flippant profanity because I think it would probably sell pretty well if it had a PG-13 rating. As it is, I think it is a fun movie to the right audience.