‘Five days ago, Emily went missing…’
Paul Feig seems to be a somewhat controversial figure in Hollywood, his MO being to take a concept that is normally very male orientated and then hiring an all female cast (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters, Spy etc etc). This has obviously ignited the fury of bedroom bound, comic book guy types because the internet is a terrible thing.
My issue with Paul Feig stems not from his casting decisions but more from the fact that I feel like his cinematic output is merely average. There is not a film on his CV that I can say I really enjoyed.
And so… to A Simple Favour.
Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is an irrepressible single mother who takes it upon herself to investigate the disappearance of her new upper class friend Emily Nelson (Blake Lively).
Let’s start with the positives. Anna Kendrick. Playing an enthusiastic, driven character is nothing new for Kendrick, nor is it a stretch. She is such a charismatic and irresistible on screen presence however that she is capable of carrying a film all on her own. She shares an enjoyable chemistry with Blake Lively and all the films best comedic moments come courtesy of her. The problem with this is that any scene without Kendrick in sees A Simple Favour grind to a halt.
The main issue with this movie though is that tonally it is a total mess. The fact that it is staged like a comedy means that the more dramatic scenes are robbed of their drama. Similarly, when it is revealed that Kendrick had a sexual relationship with her half brother, in a scene that is absolutely not played for laughs, the whole thing just feels off. A Simple Favour attempts to be a comedy, a domestic noir and a satire of vlogging culture while never successfully achieving any of that.
Basically, A Simple Favour is a good idea executed badly that is saved by a strong performance from Anna Kendrick and a competent turn from Blake Lively. Also, the ending is preposterously and needlessly complicated.