A Simple Favor
The trailer for this movie haunted me for years. I kept seeing it on a couple of my dvds, but the basic story kept me from pursuing it. The “mysterious disappearance” is my least favorite kind of thriller, so I continued to not watch it. But the film looked so nice, with the great looking art direction and cinematography. And dang it all, Paul Feig is one of my favorite directors. The thing that put me over the edge was Blake Lively in those clothes. And that hat! So I got it and danged if it isn’t a pretty good movie and I’m glad I finally caved.
In the first half minute of the movie we learn what the simple favor is. Emily (Blake Lively, Gossip Girl) has asked Steph (Anna Kendrick, Perfect Pitch) to please pick up her kid from school. No big deal, Steph considers Emily her best friend. As she explains in her mom vlog, though, that was five days ago and Emily has disappeared. In the next half minute we then learn the two have only actually known each other a few weeks. Mystery begun!
In a shift back a few days we begin to learn about Steph and Emily, and their meteoric rise to highly unlikely friendship. Steph is super mom. She volunteers for everything she can at her kid’s school, and teaches moms on the internet how to do super mom kinda things. She’s nerdy and apologetic and oh so unfashionable, which becomes even more painfully noticeable when tall and gorgeous fashion powerhouse Emily steps out of her car and runway walks into a starstruck Steph’s life. She is anti-matter to Steph’s matter. Emily takes her demure new friend to her immaculately white power home, complete with a prominently displayed painting of her in the living room. The painting shows all of her. Especially her neatly trimmed…er… (What’s a PC word for pubes?) that seems to be looking at you no matter where you go. The painting and the outrageous clothing and the house and her mannerisms would lead you to believe Emily has zero secrets and gives zero…oops, there goes another quarter into the oopsie jar. We begin to see naïve Steph is brainier and more secretive than anyone seems to notice. Then Emily disappears and you don’t exactly know what to expect.
I was surprised to discover this is Henry Golding’s second film, after Crazy Rich Asians. He is his typical handsome self here, playing Emily’s sex toy husband, cuckolded writer and loving father. Linda Cardellini (Bloodline) turns in a quick and memorable scene as the portrait painter, feeling very much like a butch Elliot Page. Jean Smart (Designing Women) also has a short and memorable sequence. I loved to hate the other school moms, especially the father, as they were a perfectly matched greek chorus of mean girls. The gag reel is fun, but you really should see the deleted original ending, especially after watching the making of featurette.
As usual in a Paul Feig film, the women characters are the most important. This is the main reason I like his work so much. Atypically for a Hollywood director, he actually likes women. He’s also meticulous in every aspect, from an achingly gorgeous wardrobe for Blake Lively and very telling costuming changes for Anna Kendrick, to fun musical choices guaranteed to tickle a movie reviewer’s funnybone. Every setting is perfect, the plot is taut and teasing and strikes just the right note of dark comedy. I would rank it with War of the Roses in that category.
Give this movie a whirl sometime if you haven’t already. I actually don’t have anything snarky to say about it, and y’all know how unusual that is. It’s a fun mystery, a well done dark comedy, very good looking and with a lot of sex appeal.
CFR: In Addition: Oh I’m so glad that Mildred reviewed this movie. I like it very much and thoroughly enjoyed it. What fun! I like Mildred am not a fan of the “girl is missing and oooo look she wasn’t who everyone thought she was” genre (I think it can be very misogynistic) but this movie, oh this one broke the mold.
Paul Feig is also one of my favorite directors and is well aware of the nonsense women are put through. So I am glad to see he kept his eyes took on this formula and changed it.
I love the Blake Lively, who is GORGEOUS, was so sexy and stunning in clothes that were beautifully tailored rather than a thinly disguised bikini. Huzzah! I love how Hendrick’s character grew and changed and she pulled that off! Go Anna. Both women were wonderful together and I really hated it when the movie ended as I wanted more!
I’ve posted some videos below that I think you might like. I like them. I’m pretty sure Mildred will too.
Check out this movie and enjoy!
Thanks for the extra videos, CFR!