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Josh Reviews A Simple Favor

In Paul Feig’s 2018 film, A Simple Favor, we follow the unlikely friendship between tight-laced, goody-two-shoes single mom Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and the mysterious, dynamic, sexy Emily (Blake Lively).  When Emily disappears one day without a trace, the determined Stephanie sets out to find her, only to get drawn into a web of twists and turns, lies and murder.  The film was written by Jessica Sharzer, and it’s based on the novel of the same name by Darcey Bell.

I’m a huge fan of Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy).  He’s a master of comedy, but A Simple Favor represented his first foray into drama in quite some time.  Still, those of us who knew and loved Freaks and Geeks have always known that Mr. Feig could handle drama just as skillfully as he could handle comedy.

Still, for the first twenty-or-so minutes of A Simple Favor, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a film I would like at all.  I found Stephanie to be so over-the-top annoying that I wasn’t sure I could take watching this character for an entire film.  But I should not have doubted Ms. Kendrick’s skill as an actress or Mr. Feig’s careful hand on the wheel.  Once Stephanie meets and befriends Blake Lively’s Emily, the film takes the first of many right-hand-turns, and the story quickly started to heat up.

This is a film that constantly kept me guessing.  I was never sure what was going to happen next or what type of movie this was going to be.  It’s so rare that I can be surprised by a movie these days!  I loved that about A Simple Favor.

I was also impressed by Mr. Feig’s deft handling of tone.  There is comedy in A Simple Favor — some very funny moments, in fact, such as Stephanie’s encounter with fashion mogul Dennis Nylon, or her supremely uncomfortable conversation with a private eye while dressed in one of Emily’s sleek black dresses.  But at heart this is a mystery/thriller, and those aspects work like gangbusters.  It’s what sucked me into the film, even though at first I wasn’t sure this was a film I’d be into.  The mystery works great, and the film’s twists and turns are fun and surprising.

Both Ms. Kendrick and Ms. Lively are fantastic.  The two are dynamite on screen together.  Their oil-and-water combination is a hoot to watch.  It’s a credit to their work that they made me believe that these two supremely different women could perhaps become friends, which is key to the film’s story working.  I wrote above that I was annoyed by Anna Kendrick’s depiction of Stephanie for the … [continued]