By: Tyler Carlin
Binary - 1/1
Director Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) delivers yet another wonderful female led comedy with some unique twists. A Simple Favor centers around Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) who lives a seemingly plain Jane lifestyle becoming friends with Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) who lives a life that can only be described as “the entire season of a popular soap opera” complete with an evil twin, a questionable suicide, and a retired author, Sean Townsend (Henry Golding), for a husband, and what might happen when a good friend makes friends with a beautiful and terrible person. The story takes its murder mystery elements as seriously as Gone Girl (2014), with all the cunning genius of a desperate wife, but delivers jokes reminiscent of Mean Girls (2004), delivering a satisfying twisting story while keeping the audience engaged with laughter, and it works surprisingly well.
Anna Kendrick is an amazing human being. In a role that I can only imagine was specifically written for Kristen Bell, Kendrick delivers a noteworthy performance as a hyper-peppy widowed vlogger mom who discovers the lucrative merits of true crime content in today’s world. The movie shares its narrative partially through vlogs and she absolutely nails the awkward new-vlogger-with-something-to-share-but-not-much-camera-presence, and her vlog about helpful tips for elementary school moms and extravagant investigative true crime is absolutely my forever mood. Her character strongly contrasts Lively’s, who has taken the role of manic pixie dream girl and turned it into confident badass dream girl, who fears nothing and tosses the vermouth before pouring her martini. After the two star-crossed leads become best friends and share tragically hilarious personal stories which you will have to uncomfortably see to believe, Lively’s inspiring confidence creates in Kendrick’s character the only kryptonite to a con artist there is, a genuinely good friend.
Let me be clear, this movie is not without its flaws. This movie is about Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding, to a fault. Most of the other characters who make appearances are easily forgotten and at this moment I couldn’t tell you any of their names. Mostly, I’m just disappointed Andrew Rannells only made me laugh about twice during the whole movie, and while the second laugh was good, his lack of development earlier in the film made it take away from the serious nature of the story, and at moments the movie seemed to be a bit more of a parody of itself than anything else, and it was in those moments where I had to sit back and remember I was in a movie theater and check my watch, which is never a good sign.
It should also be worth noting that Golding delivers another wonderful
performance, after his breakout in Crazy Rich Asians (2018) I was concerned that this follow up may not be wonderful, but he really does deliver a satisfying portrayal of a well written and dynamic character, and his chemistry on screen with Lively and Kendrick seems genuine and works very well.
It’s a genuinely fascinating film that had me leaving the theater still thinking about its themes and the characters loyalties, and despite a few dull moments and confusing character arcs, it works. Do you have to see this film? No. Will you enjoy it if you do? Yes. Especially if you like to pay attention to the movies you’re watching, it spoon feeds a complex story and keeps you laughing along the way.