Garrett and Carson do you a favor by reviewing A Simple Favor.
A Simple Favor is anything but simple. There are so many twists and turns throughout this movie that you often forget where you started and no have idea where you are going. You think you know, then you don’t, then you realize you really did know… but you didn’t. All of that may sound like it would be a lot of fun, but that is actually the least enjoyable part of A Simple Favor.
The main issue with A Simple Favor is that the tone of the movie is all over the board. There were almost as many tonal shifts as there were plot twists. At one point, it is deep into a murder mystery, then it shifts into a comedy, then back to a drama with a tease of paranormal, then ends with slapstick. A more consistent feel would have done wonders for this film.
The reason to go see A Simple Favor is simply to see Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. The two have fantastic on-screen chemistry. Every scene in which these actresses get to banter with one another is worth the price of admission. I have little doubt that in the near future they will be brought together once again. My only hope is that it will be in a more cohesive project.
So much of the success of A Simple Favor was destined to live and die with the mystery at its center. The mystery can be tiptoed around, peeked at, even played hide-and-seek with. But at some point, director Paul Feig was going to have to drop the setup, take the mystery head on, and get to the payoff. Regrettably, the transition into the payoff begins a series of tonal shifts that are made further disorienting by a multitude of twists that cause a once fairly tight film to fall into a dizzying tailspin.
The film is carried by Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick who perfectly embody their respective boozy, high-fashion diva-mom and quirky, DIY-vlogger mom characters. An unlikely pairing at first that quickly becomes a friendship that seems derived from a potent cocktail of Bad Moms, Dateline, and Real Housewives. In fact, their interactions and banter are so enjoyable that the plot which forces them apart becomes wholly regrettable. It’s a wonder Feig didn’t scrap the plot and opt for a way to keep the pair on screen together for as much of the runtime as possible.
Obviously, the plot unfolded just as the trailer preordained and the whodunnit mystery wedged itself into the story like the annoying person who forces their way onto a couch between two friends. As the plot shifts, the tone tries to keep up but stumbles from scene to scene. Ranging from dark and brooding (death and drug use) to silly (rapping in a car) to erotic thriller (shades of Fatal Attraction and a direct rip of Sleeping with the Enemy) and back again. It’s a bit much to digest and makes you wonder what type of movie you’re watching. By the end, you may even wonder if you’ve been watching a satire of a Lifetime movie.
As for the central mystery that unfolds in the third act, it lacks any real sense of payoff. Instead of a core thread that the audience can pull on to slowly unravel the mystery, Feig opts to play out as many scenarios as possible. The audience is forced to constantly guess who is partnered up with who and who they should be rooting for. This can be fun if the guesses feel informed or educated, but in A Simple Favor they feel like throwing darts while blindfolded. When the movie finally arrives at its final destination, it feels like it took the longest possible path to get to the most obvious outcome.
To put it bluntly, A Simple Favor would have been far more enjoyable had it stayed, well… simple.