I honestly joked with my staff that after watching Mandy in theaters earlier last week that it would be downhill for the rest of the films in the month. Thirty minutes into A Simple Favor, I realized I was wrong. A Simple Favor has a high level of energy about it that you are immediately engaged in, and it holds that energy from beginning to end. The music and cinematography have an excellent sway over you that is hard to describe. Director Paul Feig has no business being behind a film this entertaining, to the point I couldn’t stop smiling or laughing for the near two hours of its runtime. The dialog is clever, the characters are thrilling, and the actual plot is crazier than Gone Girl.
Speaking of Gone Girl, A Simple Favor has been highly compared to it, and it makes sense considering their plot and main characters are similar. For the readers who see where I am going with this, you are thinking A Simple Favor is a weaker Feig version of Gone Girl, and you would be wrong. Feig actually directs a solid film, one that actually rises above the comparisons, and I would argue this is his best film to date.
The film begins with Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) filming a housewife styled vlog until she tears up. For you see, her best friend Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) went missing five days before the filming of her vlog. Stephanie states it all started with a simple favor involving her picking up Emily’s son from school. After that, we are kicked off into a thrilling yet hilarious flashback that only enhances the mystery of who is Emily Nelson?
A Simple Favor treads a lot of old ground as Stephanie starts to dig deeper into Emily’s past and slowly becomes involved with her husband Sean Nelson (Henry Golding). What saves it from feeling like a cheap knockoff of Gone Girl is how self-aware the film seems to be at times. Most of that is in part to the amazing dialog delivery and sheer performance of Lively. Whenever she’s on the screen you are getting some grade A acting material. Her character is not only stylish, but the mysteries around her only make you wish you had more screen time of her. Fortunately, Kendrick plays her role of the seemingly innocent single mother perfectly. These women carry the film on their backs and overpower the tonal shifts towards the second half of the film.
I have to give a fair warning: A Simple Favor gives no fuck about you as the viewer.
It will throw plot twists at you that are unpredictable simply because no rational person would ever think it would happen. I can not stress enough that this film makes Gone Girl look like a plain thriller by comparison.
For those looking for the perfect B thriller with entertaining performances, and an unpredictable plot twist, this is the film to watch in September.
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