Do Yourself A SIMPLE FAVOR and Go See This Movie

c7055a014a1b9d5cdc024b27d0a7ee97Hello, Mothers, and other fans! Thanks for tuning in. I’m sure everyone is way over the Gone Girlphenomenon* that pivoted into the Girl on the Trainphenomenon** that made everyone resent anything with “Girl” in the title*** (not to be confused with the soon-to-be-rebooted Girl with the Dragon Tattooseries, which is partially responsible for all this mess). So, if you saw a trailer forA Simple Favor, you surely had flashbacks to that brand of twisty, female-driven psychological thrillers and rolled your eyes. You probably extra rolled your eyes at seeing America’s a cappella sweetheart Anna Kendrick starring as the protagonist who, in this case, tries to solve the disappearance of her best friend Emily (played by Blake Lively—and I know you rolled your eyes at her unless you’re a huge Gossip Girlfan like I am).

Stephanie (Kendrick) is a dedicated mom with a vlog that she posts on regularly with nifty tips for cooking and crafts. It’s a deeply cheesy premise, which draws eye rolls from the other moms at school (including ever-present Andrew Rannells). But Stephanie’s life changes when her son wants to hang out with his friend Nicky after school. Nicky’s mother Emily emerges onscreen in a slow-mo walk through the rain dressed in a chic suit ensemble with heels. She only lets the boys come over if Stephanie agrees to a martini. And it’s all downhill from there.

The seeming friendship that buds between Emily and Stephanie is akin to Serena van der Woodsen hazing some nobody from Yonkers. But at least Emily’s “European” style martinis look like perfection. Frozen gin in a frozen martini glass with a vermouth rinse. Garnished with a nice lemon peel chunk cut deftly by Emily with a meat knife while she slowly seduces Stephanie into confessing her darkest secrets.

 

02-a-simple-favor.w1200.h630We soon meet Emily’s smoldering, failed-writer husband Sean (Henry Golding—you know, from Crazy Rich Asians). He and Stephanie share some intellectual conversation before he goes back to kissing his wife, while Stephanie looks on jealously. “Friendship” established, Emily calls Stephanie requesting “a simple favor” to pick up her son from school. And then no one hears from her for five days.

Stephanie goes on a comical yet endearing investigation into Emily’s disappearance. Veronica Marsshe is not, but Emily has inadvertently taught her enough to give her a bit of a backbone. And the more clues she uncovers, the more confidence she gains.

The film relies on you expecting those Gone Girl-like twists. But it plays them up for humor or as motivation for Stephanie’s growth. And then, in the last 30 minutes they continue to defy expectations with twist on twist on twist (some are obvious, others less so) until it reaches it’s spellbinding finale.

The soundtrack, too, really adds to the energy of the film. The French bops that continue to pop up whether in homage to Emily or to Stephanie’s growth into a stronger, smarter character will have you dancing in your seat.


The film’s ability to make the macabre humorous without being overdone is enjoyable. You’ll laugh at unexpected moments and still feel the thrill of tension when it’s also called for. This might be director Paul Feig’s most subtle comedy. Considering how much I dislike his previous films, I’m amazed how engaged I was. And considering how little regard I have for Anna Kendrick and her frequently bland acting (Up in the Airbeing somehow the antithesis to her career to date), I left the film appreciating the subtlety she brought to the film. Blake Lively, however, never failed to entertain me. But then, she got the role that lets her chew up the scenery while mixing cocktails and looking fabulous.
I understand anyone’s reservations against the film—especially going into Oscar season. But A Simple Favoris a thrillingly good time, and a great escape from the drudgery of everyday life.

90

 

*Even though both the book and the film are impeccable.

**A deeply lackluster brand (sorry, Emily Blunt).

***I see you, Ruth Ware, trying to upgrade the branding with The Woman in Cabin 10.

 

Bonus Pairing: I’ll obviously be drinking Aviation Gin Martinis for the rest of the weekend.