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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: Plot twists aplenty in "A Simple Favor"

Sep 14, 2018 10:26PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor - © 2018 Lionsgate.

A Simple Favor (Lionsgate)

Rated R for sexual content and language throughout, some graphic nude images, drug use and violence.

Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine, Glenda Braganza, Andrew Rannells, Kelly McCormack, Aparna Nancherla, Dustin Milligan, Danielle Bourgon, Gia Sandhu, Rupert Friend, Eric Johnson, Linda Cardellini, Paul Jurewicz, Sarah Baker, Jean Smart, Bashir Salahuddin.

Written by Jessica Sharzer, based on the novel by Darcey Bell.

Directed by Paul Feig.



A good murder-mystery is hard to find. The simple formula of motivation+opportunity+means+alibi=intrigue has been played out so many times, and when the inevitable plot twist (or twists) strike in the third act, it’s difficult to be surprised because you already know it’s coming. Such is the case with A Simple Favor, Paul Feig’s adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel. Bring on the twists.

Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie, a super-sweet (and widowed) woman who raises the bar on “perfect” single motherhood by sharing all her “mommy hacks” in her online video blog channel. When her son Miles (Joshua Satine) befriends Nicky (Ian ho), Stephanie meets Nicky’s mother Emily (Blake Lively) when the two boys insist on a series of play dates. Emily is a sharp-tongued, martini-swilling, super-gorgeous PR executive for a New York fashion designer whose idea of motherhood is keeping her son entertained and alive while enjoying the spoils of living in a luxurious home while wearing spectacular clothing. Emily’s husband is Sean (Henry Golding – of Crazy Rich Asians fame), a once successful author now working as a college professor. The not-so-obvious friendship between Emily and Stephanie takes a strange turn when Emily disappears. An investigation ensues, as Stephanie shares her concerns during her online her video cooking segments. Her pleas for help in locating her friend leads to clues that point authorities to a body that washes up in Michigan. The DNA and a matching tattoo confirm that it is Emily. While comforting Emily’s family, Stephanie falls into a sexual relationship with Sean, leading to suspicions among neighbors and police. Stephanie has unanswered questions of her own and sets out on a hunt for the truth. Her search leads to several shocking discoveries, culminating in a confrontation that threatens her life and the lives of the people around her. Here’s where the plot twists come flying in, one after another.

A Simple Favor has some intrigue, albeit served with plenty of the aforementioned predictable plot twists. Blake Lively’s performance is perfect as a woman of mystery with an apparent lack of scruples, which plays off nicely in contrast to Kendrick’s tough but innocent persona. There is some chemistry there, even though the story gets a little ridiculous.

A Simple Favor also has a few moments of clever dark humor, complemented by a production style that leans toward a 1960s European motif.  While a little rough around the edges and bordering on the ridiculous, A Simple Favor is somewhat enjoyable, but it isn’t quite as clever as it could have been.  

A Simple Favor Trailer