Movie Review: A Simple Favor 🍸

Don’t be mistaken by its dark mystery movie trailer because A Simple Favor definitely contains more comedy than you think.

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Anna Kendrick stars as Stephanie Smothers, and Blake Lively stars as Emily Nelson in A Simple Favor. CREDIT: Lionsgate

This post for A Simple Favor is spoiler-free, but it does contain some discussion of the novel by author Darcey Bell.

A Simple Favor (2018, directed by Paul Feig) is based on the mystery novel by Darcey Bell and follows Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) who is a single mommy vlogger who is asked by her new best friend Emily (Blake Lively) for a simple favor (I prefer favour, but okay I will abide by the American spelling since it’s on the movie poster). Emily soon goes missing and Stephanie has tasked herself to track down her best friend.

I’m on the fence about whether to like the movie adaptation for A Simple Favor or not. I only gave the book a 2/5 on goodreads because I found that it was trying so hard to replicate the success of Gone Girl—and it clearly failed, hence the low rating. However, the movie adaptation drastically changed the original ending from the book; thus, giving the story a more fulfilling ending. But sometimes there was just so much going on in the movie that it can be a little confusing for audiences.

The movie is definitely told through Stephanie’s point of view, as audiences get to see her turn from a mommy vlogger into a 5 feet 2 inches Nancy Drew. In the book, she’s actually a blogger, but obviously this transition makes more sense because a million subscribers is worth more than a million readers in this day and age. Kendrick certainly inputs all her comedic charm into her character of Stephanie. Sometimes she’s awkward; sometimes she’s clever; sometimes she’s badass; and most other times, she’s funny—like really funny.

Lively doesn’t appear as much as Kendrick does, but she certainly gets a fair amount of screen time. Lively’s portrayal of Emily felt a bit much; and at times, just really extra. Extra, in the sense that even when her character is not supposed to be as well-dressed as she should be, she is walking around in a men’s pant suit and a skull cane. The costume designer Renée Kalfus does explain Emily’s wardrobe choices here, and it is very clearly inspired by director Feig’s fashion style.

Emily’s backstory is changed quite a bit from the book, but the psychotic and mysterious personality of the character still remains the same. In the first 10 minutes of the movie, Emily dropped more f-bombs 💣 than the 304 pages of book I read. It seems like movie-Emily was a more heightened version of book-Emily, and I guess the reason for that is to bring out the dominant and aggressive trait in the character.

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Henry Golding stars as Sean Townsend (left) in A Simple Favor. CREDIT: Lionsgate

Henry Golding, who plays Emily’s husband Sean Townsend, proves that he is taking acting seriously. He is convincing as the confused husband and caring father, but I’m afraid that his chemistry with Kendrick’s Stephanie is just not as great as the chemistry he had with Lively’s Emily. If this sounds confusing, it’s because Sean goes on to have an “affair” (it’s not really an affair, since Emily died) with Emily’s best friend Stephanie, after she dies (also this is totally not a spoiler because it’s in the trailer).

I didn’t really enjoy the novel much when I was reading it because even though it was really easy to breeze through it, the shock factor of the story was very mediocre. What the movie succeeds at doing is switching the story up and keeping me as a viewer in suspense. Most people would likely compare A Simple Favor to Gone Girl, and it’s pretty obvious why that would be the case.

Rating: 4/5

Sidenotes on A Simple Favor:

  • If you are wondering why the movie adaptation has got such a strong French vibe going on, I think the inspiration probably came from the French movie Diabolique.
  • My favourite line from the movie comes from Stephanie who says, “Are you trying to Diabolique me?”. It is a short and sweet reference to the book, as Diabolique is mentioned multiple times by Stephanie and Emily in the book.

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