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'A Simple Favor' (2018) Movie Review

Who hasn't had to solve the mystery of their best friend's disappearance before?

Two best friends. One goes missing. We are in for some fun times.

Two best friends. One goes missing. We are in for some fun times.

A Little Surprise

Saying that A Simple Favor was a ‘little’ surprise is putting it tremendously light; this was a huge surprise for me. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that the movie looked like it would probably be good from the trailers I saw, and I am fond of director Paul Feig’s work for the most part. He had the occasional miss, but this film is so far from being a miss. This is a total bullseye and by far his best film.

The comedy is spot on, the acting is just right, the mystery is enthralling, the direction perfectly balances the serious tone of a thriller with dark comedic moments. I was completely thrown off by how great this movie turned out to be, and I had a terrific time watching everything unfold.

The Plot

To be very clear here, I will not be spoiling a single thing about this movie because it is a great film with a well thought out mystery, which a large part of my enjoyment was slowly figuring out exactly what was going on in the story.

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a timid young mother who runs a series of parenting vlogs from home and has a son in elementary school, her son becomes friends with another boy who’s mother is Emily (Blake Lively); an upper-class and extremely blunt woman that says what’s on her mind without a care in the world. Stephanie and Emily as a result of their sons befriending also become very close friends with one another, best friends even, until one day Emily mysterious disappears without a trace. When it seems like this may be serious and not much progress is being made by the police, Stephanie attempts to solve what happened to Emily.

The Perfect Mixture

Calling this film a comedy doesn’t feel right to me even though it is quite hilarious in its writing and performances. What this movie really is, is a smart crime thriller with a dark sense of humor. The script came across to me as though Alfred Hitchcock came back from the grave to make one more thriller, but this time he wanted to punch up the dialog with some grim punch lines and I had a blast with it. I was interminably guessing as to where this narrative was leading me because I hadn’t a clue. Every piece of the puzzle kept me guessing as to what was going on, where did Emily go? What happened to her? Was the husband involved? Does he know? Is she dead? Is she alive? What does this detail mean? Is Stephanie losing her mind? What is going on?

I was gripped onto every minute of it without realizing until probably halfway through that in between the laughs I was fully concentrated on the mystery. I was held in suspense multiple times and riveted while simultaneously laughing at the jokes and hilarious sequences with these characters. The characters never felt like they didn’t take their world seriously; everything that was going on was a serious matter, but they still knew how to be funny in a way that worked and didn’t break the believability or tone. It very much so reminded me of the original Ghostbusters from 1984 in how that was practically a horror film that so happened to center on a set of funny people, A Simple Favor is reminiscent of that which makes this a better remake than Paul Feig’s actual Ghostbusters remake.

The whole cast does a superb job nailing these roles because they have to be funny at the same time as being serious about a situation involving someone very close to them vanishing and possibly even dead. That is a difficult line to walk and I think they all did as close to perfect as anyone could get with how seriously dark the movie gets, particularly when the movie gets into Stephanie’s backstory, which certainly threw me off guard as to where it was going. Anna Kendrick does a really good job performing in the role of Stephanie which is comparable to what she would typically play as in something similar to her role in Pitch Perfect, but inside of a serious thriller which made for fantastic comedic moments with her physical performance. Plus she handled the weight of having that dark edge with Stephanie’s past incredibly well.

She has a solid arc and is believable as this shy girl who starts to grow into her own as the mystery progresses. And even the man who plays Emily’s husband, Henry Goldwig does a great job and he honestly astounds me with how charming he is for a guy I believe has only been in two feature films now; Crazy Rich Asians and now A Simple Favor, Goldwig is going places that I am very excited to see for myself.


Blake F*cking Lively

Blake Lively gives one of the best performances of the year in this movie. She is bad-ass. She is cool. She is suave. She is oozing charisma in every frame. She is hilarious. She is intimidating. She is heartbreaking. She is phenomenal in this movie. Disagree? Fight me. Seriously. I loved her in this film. Every second she is on screen I am in awe of how perfect she is in this role. She throws out a dark quip as quick as lightning. There’s one scene that I won’t spoil, but it involves a wrench and a necklace with Lively’s character and while it was happening I was grinning ear to ear with my eyes practically glued to the screen because of a simple look and what she’s doing in the process. It was one of those flawless cinematic moments that you have to see for yourself. I’ve really liked Blake Lively in past projects, but this is possibly her best performance ever. I want to see her be as bold in this again very soon because I could not get enough of her here. I am struggling to think of a better performance that I’ve seen from anyone else this year, she is that amazing as Emily Nelson.


Please See This Movie

So yeah, that’s as much information about the movie as I really want to divulge here because this is a great mystery that is just as fun piecing together as the comedy is to experience. This movie is probably my favorite comedy of 2018, at least as far as I have seen from this year. I laughed, I was mesmerized, I was shaking my leg in anticipation of what was going to happen next. It was a great time and I hope that people see this and give it a lot of love because I believe that A Simple Favor deserves the attention. So by all means, check this one out!

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 John Plocar


John Plocar (author) from Weatherford on December 15, 2018:

@Pat Mills, sadly I missed the movie in theaters but I am certainly glad I saw it regardless. Sadly there was just a conflict of timing when it hit theaters for me. The two leads are terrific and their chemistry is fantastic.

Pat Mills from East Chicago, Indiana on December 15, 2018:

I agree that this is one of the best movies I've seen in 2018. Anyone who missed this in theaters will have to wait for home video for this very funny film which shows its leads at their best.