A Simple Favor: Review by Kai
Based on the book of the same name from author Darcey Bell, screenplay by Jessica Sharzer, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively (and other awesomely cast folks), Directed by Paul Feig.
I saw this movie on a date night with my wife and selected it at a moments notice because it fit with our dinner reservation time and I love Anna Kendrick. Also, secretly I love going into movies blind, in this case I hadn’t seen a trailer or read anything about it, only a one line description about a vlogger solving the murder of their best friend. My wife is way into true crime podcasts, My Favorite Murder, Criminal, In The Dark, so I was hoping she would enjoy this new media crime solver pick (I was tasked with selecting a movie, date nights are rare, so in our haste she also went in blind).
What I loved-
Blake Lively plays Faith (or was it Hope?) a borderline personality sociopath who is one of the most watchable things I have ever seen in a genre straddling noir-comedy. Impeccably dressed, self assured, no apologies given, sexually self-realized and a Gin Martini enthusiast/super enthusiast. I really wanted to see this character unleashed in some other settings besides this sleepy Connecticut town in a living room with Anna Kendrick (despite that being fun too). Blake’s character shares a kinship with the borderline “Don’t put your dick in crazy” character that Jennifer Aniston played on 30 Rock. One minute making out with Jack in a cab, the next slipping a handgun into his pocket to get him in trouble. Flippant, unpredictable and just fun that the next twist in mood will take you in a different direction.
Don’t ask me about Anna, just like all of the other things I have seen her in, she fuckin’ kills it. (Talented to the degree I am going to start expecting her to make an EGOT pursuit. Serious triple threat, she’s funny, can sing (and freestyle rap) and act.)
What I meh-
Seeing this makes me curious to read the book. The immediate sense I get is that this movie is trying to do too many things and doesn’t justify why it has to go past 100 or so minutes of runtime (119 minutes total).
It feels like they picked three or four types of genre to follow and then also couldn’t nail a comedy/mystery/thriller? balance. We interlope through a bunch of interesting scenes but by the end the main characters are speaking to each other almost exclusively in dismissive Mean Girl sarcasm and it robs the finale of some impact. I imagine some of these plot points, if this a faithful adaptation, would probably play better on the written page due to how it was stylistically interpreted. Also, the title doesn’t feel like it fits this as a movie.
What else was also great-
There is a diverse group of ‘other parents’ from Anna Kendrick’s son’s school who play an almost Shakespearean retinue of expositional voices with excellent quips.
Oh! The sex! There is a really well done scene where one character is describing an encounter and claims nothing happened but we are watching their recollection of it where stuff DEFINITELY happened and then we see its awkward impact in this private conversation. That might have been my favorite thing in the movie, not just for the sex but they really nailed a quiet conversation between two women telling each other secrets. The first half of the movie felt really cohesive in that respect.
And Henry Golding! SEXY HAPAS DOIN’ WORK! This cast was so comically talented, I kinda wanted them to just lean into this being a full dark comedy.
Should you see it?
Yeah, on a date night this was fun. My wife had some of the same criticisms I did, but she liked it a bit more. Flask of vodka capsized into our Coke def helped.