A Simple Favour is a 2018 comedy thriller motion-picture directed by Paul Feig and is based on a novel by the same name written by Darcey Bell. Its plot pivots on a small town vlogger cum single mother in Stephanie Smothers played by Anna Kendrick, who is hell-bent on solving the sudden disappearance of her mysterious and wealthy best friend.
It’s safe to say that the movie’s got a stellar leading cast. I mean, when you have Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick and breakout star Henry Golding, what could possibly go wrong? Well, in this case not much apparently but it’s not all rosy in the garden. Anna Kendrick’s performance was… okay to say the least. Stephanie, the character she plays, is just a young and vibrant single mom to a young boy who is trying to make ends meet; it doesn’t get any more relatable than that, does it?
What I liked most about Steph was how inquisitive she was; there are certain controversies that arise in the film which she passionately wanted to know more about and as a viewer I got that. Aside from the fact that Stephanie often speaks like a Kardashian word for word as well as the fact that her character does have a particular unlikeable quality that was played for fun a lot, especially by Blake Lively’s character, Anna Kendrick knocked it off the park. She really did.
Speaking of Blake Lively, she owns her role in this movie and I loved it. I haven’t seen much of her on the big screen of late but whenever I do, she rarely disappoints. She convincingly plays her psychopathic character in Emily Nelson and I liked it. At first, exclusively in the 1st Act, it admittedly came off as a very annoying trait for a lead character. One minute she is the kindest and most lively person ever, no pun intended, but in the next she’s excessively egocentric and ummmh… bitchy; for a lack of a better term. That said, as the movie went along, I got to understand that that is indeed who Emily truly is and that understanding was solidified later on in the movie when I get to see her backstory. It is that specific trait that steers the character onwards till the very end.
And then there was Henry Golding; saying that he’s having a blast in the acting game of late would be an understatement. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was a hit and it seems like the only way for Golding going forward is up. Much like his character in the mentioned movie, his onscreen persona on here possesses that charming and pleasant demeanour which audiences seem to love apparently.
There isn’t much to his performance as Sean Townsend that I can say stood out for me and was impactful nonetheless, he does make the most out of the material he is working with because he is a good actor. A lot of rumours had been flying around about Idris Elba possibly being the next ‘James Bond’ but now that those rumours are dead, the conversation ought to be shifting towards ‘Henry Golding’s direction, shouldn’t it? I think he’d be better at action star roles as opposed to the ‘telenovela-styled’ roles he has been playing in the two movies he has starred in this year and yes, I am including this one.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
There are quite a number of reasons to be invested in this movie’s plot because it indeed does stay true to one aspect of its genus which I was paying most attention to and one that you should as well; the thriller aspect. In a substantial amount of occasions during the film’s runtime, I thought I knew what was going to happen next or later on but the contrary was true. The plot twists are noteworthy. One mystery after another, the movie’s conflict is solved and by the time the end credits start rolling, I was undoubtedly satisfied with how the movie ended.
*The acting is exceptionally done; there are moments when I could tell that Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick’s characters were obviously adlibbing and that to me is a good sign. A good sign that the said actors were having as much fun as possible with the roles they were playing and I bet Paul Feig, the director was ecstatic about it. *Speaking of the angel, the direction was very audaciously done at some points and I was astonished by it; I could have never imagined that a seasoned Hollywood director would be very comfortable in allowing a certain curse word in a child actor’s script and in addition, let it make the final cut but Paul Feig did just that. The circumstances in which that word is said in the movie and the way it is said as well just made my day.
I’m certainly not familiar with how a proper comedy thriller should look and feel like simply because I haven’t watched enough of them but judging by my experience of watching ‘A Simple Favour’, I’m getting a bad vibe out of this genre. The comedy part and the thriller part were definitely not cohesive. Furthermore, I felt like the movie did not understand its intended genre in the first place; it was more of a romantic thriller than a comedy thriller in my eyes.
The flaws don’t end there. *Working off my previous comment on how adhesive the comedy aspect and the thriller aspect were, the comedy on its own wasn’t even that inviting. I barely smiled, yet alone laughed at the various jokes and words being thrown around by the characters. Stephanie came off the worst in all this. There are times when she is really pushing it with the comedy and yet the tone of the scenes in question were in more ways than one, serious. *Additionally, the flick is way too dependent on flashbacks and exposition as a plot device; in fact, everything comes to a screeching halt to make room for the latter. I wasn’t pleased by that.
In spite of all the shortcomings that A Simple Favour bears, it does hold up well in other ways many of which I haven’t mentioned in the review such as cinematography, sound and production design. Some of you might have watched this Paul Feig motion-picture already by the time you are reading this but for those who haven’t, I’d say go watch it.