“A SIMPLE FAVOR” IS A FUN WATCH
A Simple Favor is all over the place but it’s not horrible. It’s funny.
If you’re looking for a little something to entertainment you then A Simple Favor might be it. The film is ridiculous, but in a good way; it’s very random.
The 2018 movie stars Anna Kendrick as Stephanie, a stay-at-home mom with a people pleasing attitude and Blake Lively, as a cold-hearted Emily, the film’s villain and femme fatale. It’s about how Stephanie’s loneliness leads her to the confines of Emily’s trap as she schemes her way into wealth and a life without responsibility. For Emily, Stephanie is the perfect victim until she isn’t.
Their fraught relationship begins when Stephanie meets Emily on the front steps of their children’s grade school. She’s in awe of the chic Emily, who, even in pouring rain, is able to maintain a certain air of luxury and glamour like what you would expect from a Holly Golightly mother figure. Unsurprisingly, Emily barely notices her until her son Nicky (Ian Ho), asks for a playdate with Stephanie’s son Miles (Joshua Satine). But during the course of their short-stinted encounter, Emily asks and asks many things of Stephanie, demanding whatever she can of Stephanie even her secrets, then her time, as she repeatedly asks her to watch over Nicky, and then finally she asks for her to be a doormat. It’s a lot, but Stephanie is willing to comply as long as she can win a friend. Then one day, Emily doesn’t pick up Nicky after school as she’d planned and Stephanie is led to believe that she has gone missing. As her best friend, Stephanie takes it upon herself to comfort Emily’s widowed and sexy husband Sean (Henry Golding) and to take care of Nicky, only to learn that maybe it was all part of a larger plan.
It’s true, A Simple Favor, is bewildering. It’s the kind of movie you’d watch in the summer at the theatre or for a chill movie night with friends. Basically, you wouldn’t take it too seriously because of how absurd it can be. The jokes are everywhere. Stephanie’s leap to calling Emily her best friend after days of their knowing each other is strange but even stranger is the fact that she extends so much time to finding information about her.
A lot of the disjointed feel of the movie is largely due to the way that the story is structured. For instance, the plot development feels nonsensical after Stephanie goes to Michigan in search of information about Emily. After which, the film doesn’t exactly follow any logical path, just a series of aimless and lacklustre events strung together to push the story forward while slightly amusing audiences along the way. Yet, the film still preserves a likeability that is hard to miss. It’s basically does what Promising Young Woman tried to achieve but failed at doing and is essentially the perfect blend of Emily in Paris’ light silliness, Desperate Housewives neighbourhood judgmental observers, with a dash of the late 90s/early 2000s melodramatic energy of Gina Matthews and Ryan Murphy’s, Popular. A Simple Favor is all over the place but it’s not horrible. It’s funny.
It’s one of those films where you can pin point exactly where it unravels and where you finally understood why it didn’t win public favour at its initial release. However, it’s not the worst watch. Lively is almost convincing in her role as Emily early on but her impersonation breaks down to reveal Serena van der Woodsen. Kendrick is slightly more convincing but the plot development steers the story towards banality, but—and here’s the twist—the ending is endearing. It even invites a little chuckle out of you and clarifies that the entire film is a satire of the female sociopath trope and the desirable margins they’re made to fit in, even when they are clearly the bad guy. To show this, we see Stephanie making some of the commentary we’ve all been thinking behind the scenes when watching a resilient villain who should clearly give up but refuses. It is a lot of fun.