By Kim Hughes
Let’s say this: Anna Kendrick is great when she’s good but, as those who caught her in little-seen (but highly recommended) Mr. Right can attest, she’s even better when she’s bad. And Blake Lively… c’mon really, who knew? Roles this juicy don’t happen every day.
Kendrick plays chipper, spit-polished Stephanie, a super-mom vlogger and the polar opposite of Lively’s icy Emily, a man-eating, martini-swilling fashion plate. The pair, whose kids are classmates, form an unlikely bond over afternoon cocktails (and ensuing confessions) that quickly morphs into a co-dependant friendship: Stephanie needs Emily for vicarious thrills, Emily needs Stephanie for babysitting.
But when Emily suddenly disappears, leaving her son in Stephanie’s care, Stephanie is thrust into a complex web of deceit as she aims to solve a mystery that is multiplying by the minute. Or is she? Audiences are left wondering who is pulling the strings until the final scene… and maybe even after.
The more I thought about A Simple Favor after the fact, the more I began to tease apart its labyrinthine swirls… but that’s the wrong approach. I could not get this movie out of my head. And in the end it didn’t matter. The whole time I spent watching the thing was absolute buckets of fun.
Feig has done a superb job of building a compelling story from angular bits that shouldn’t fit together but do while making pointed commentary on everything from gender roles to social media. That A Simple Favor is as much comedy as suspense is no small feat. Score another for the man who put the great Melissa McCarthy on the fast-track to stardom.
A Simple Favor. Directed by Paul Feig. Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Henry Golding. Opens wide September 14.