Movies

Movie review: 'A Simple Favor'

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively enliven adaptation of Darcey Bell's debut novel

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/14/18

A movie like "A Simple Favor" might seem more suited for The Lifetime Channel if in some alternate universe it carried R-rated fare with lots of naughty language, a bit of nudity and references to things like sexual deviance ...

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Movies

Movie review: 'A Simple Favor'

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively enliven adaptation of Darcey Bell's debut novel

Posted

A movie like "A Simple Favor" might seem more suited for The Lifetime Channel if in some alternate universe it carried R-rated fare with lots of naughty language, a bit of nudity and references to things like sexual deviance, heroin use and threesomes. But, that's only because it's set in a financially comfortable Connecticut suburban environment where all sorts of shenanigans seem to take place while be-suited breadwinners are in "the city" making serious scratch.

That's where single mom Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) spends her orderly days getting her little boy off to school, so she can produce her homemade mommy vlog where she offers various helpful hints about all things domestic, orderly and ... nice. She’s like a Donna Reed for the new millennium.

Directed by frequent Melissa McCarthy collaborator Paul Fieg from a script adapted from Darcey Bell's debut novel, the film moves along as crisp and as tidy as Stephanie's slightly cartoony-cute wardrobe, until, while picking up her son from school, she happens to meet the gorgeous and impossibly glamorous Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). Stephanie is immediately and mostly platonically smitten as she is swept into Emily's very different world.

Emily is a public relations executive for a high-end New York fashion magazine, and as such, is a force with which to be reckoned. Even her boss, the enormously aloof Dennis Nylon (Rupert Friend) stays out of her way because she is so good at her job.

She is all that, plus a devoted mom to little Nicky (Ian Ho) and loving wife to the handsome, one-time famous author Sean Townsend (Henry Golding of “Crazy Rich Asians”). Why else would Stephanie find her so alluring?

Emily and Stephanie become fast friends, but of course, we the audience can see cracks in the façades of both women because, c’mon, Stephanie seems like a deer in the headlights while Emily is a predatory lioness toying with her until the right moment.

This is especially evident when, over afternoon martinis while the kids play upstairs, they soon spill secrets about themselves. You know that at some point the information they share will end up being used somehow.

Well, in a kind of “Gone Girl” twist, Emily calls one day and asks Stephanie for the “simple favor” of the title and then promptly vanishes. This is when Stephanie discovers something about herself that is somewhat surprising. She’s a pretty good sleuth who begins uncovering some tantalizing details that lead her further down a strange rabbit hole.

Fieg keeps things from going wildly astray, sticking to a well-plotted script adaptation by Jessica Sharzer that might be a welcome relief from working with the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants McCarthy. It’s got a talented cast, some interesting twists, and even though you can see the conclusion from a mile away, is still pretty satisfying.

A Simple Favor: Tempo grade: B+

MPAA rating: R for sexual content and language throughout, some graphic nude images, drug use and violence.

This film screens daily starting Friday (Sept. 14) at Mitchell Storyteller Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4145 or visit storyteller7.com.

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This film screens daily starting Friday (Sept. 14) at Mitchell Storyteller Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4145 or visit storyteller7.com.

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This film screens at 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 16) and 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 17-19) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052.

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This film screens daily starting Friday (Sept. 14) at Mitchell Storyteller Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4145 or visit storyteller7.com.

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