“Oh, you don’t want to be friends with me. Trust me.”
When Emily asks her best friend Stephanie for A Simple Favor to pick her kid up from school, things begin to spiral out of control when Emily doesn’t return. It is then up to Stephanie to figure out what exactly happened to her best friend, which leads her to find out that maybe Emily isn’t exactly who she says she is.
I would love to dive deep into the mystery of what exactly A Simple Favor is, but I dare not spoil any of the surprises that lay inside. I urge you to go into this film as blind as you can be, fully unaware of anything. Do not even watch the trailer. The less you know about it the more you are bound to be surprised by the twisted thrills that lurk behind every corner of this movie like an intruder readying his attack.
A Simple Favor blends genres of comedy, crime, and mystery very effectively to deliver probably the funniest murder-mystery I have ever seen. Similar movies usually seem to be defined by their very dark and serious tones, but A Simple Favor separates itself from others by establishing a tone exclusive to itself, which then further alienates itself from the pack so it can effectively stand out on its own without being sidelined as the next Gone Girl impostor. And it does so with the ease of a sharp knife cutting into human flesh.
The movie does not shy away from being fun, and it most definitely does not shy away from being funny. The humor in the film is some of the funniest I have seen in any film so far this year. The dialogue seems to hinge on the fact that it can sometimes be a little ridiculous but also very trashy — in a good way. This is a thoroughly entertaining, trashy mystery in all the right ways, and the vibe this movie gives off shows its creators owns that fact.
What also helps the film establish itself as its own is helped by the witty, smart script from Jessica Sharzer. Sharzer elevates the subject matter stemming off the decidedly “meh” novel into a more intriguing, fluid script bolstered by more effective twists and a better cohesive narrative. The script changes quite a bit from the novel, including the very shaky ending, but it is all ultimately for the better because I was much more invested in the ending of the film than I was in the novel. Not to compare the two too much, but it is quite a rare feat when the film version of a novel ends up being better than the novel itself.
The always charismatic Anna Kendrick takes up the role of the very naïve Stephanie, and she unsurprisingly delivers another great performance, thanks to her ever so charming nature. Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians also gives another good performance as Emily’s oblivious husband. With his recent movie successes, I can tell he has a very promising career ahead of him, and I am very interested to see where it takes him because I will be watching.
However, it is Blake Lively that steals the entire film. She chews the scenery like the talent she is. I will never understand why she does not get role after role because she is incredible. Her performance as Emily here is truly fantastic. I got some real Rosamund Pike from Gone Girl vibes with her performance here, and while her character may not be up to par with Pike’s character, Lively’s performance sure matches up. She delivers one of the first truly great performances so far this year.
A Simple Favor may get caught up sometimes in all of its twists, but it is still one of the most ferociously entertaining films I have seen so far this year. Seek it out, but make sure to go in as blind as you can because it will enhance the experience for you.
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– Spencer Kain