Paul Feig is a common name in film. You either love his films or you hate them. There’s very little in between when it comes to Feig’s unique brand of humor. Feig’s most recent theatrical effort was Ghostbusters back in 2016. While most would applaud Feig for putting women first in his films, his virtual disdain for men came to a head in Ghostbusters and the film was a complete and utter disaster. While his latest film, A Simple Favor, isn’t the train wreck we saw with Ghostbusters, it misses the mark in more ways than one. Let’s dive into what you can expect with our movie review of A Simple Favor.
A Simple Favor is based on the novel by Darcey Bell. Unfortunately, Feig is clearly out of his element trying to adapt a book that plays out similar to Gone Girl. The basic premise of the film and book revolve around a high-class publicist, Emily Nelson (Black Lively), and her unlikely best friend, Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick). Smothers is a widowed stay-at-home mother who starts up a video blog for moms. When Nelson goes missing, Smothers helps to solve the mystery with a little help from Emily’s husband, Sean Townsend (Henry Golding).
On paper, A Simple Favor should be very similar to Gone Girl. There should be enough mystery and suspense to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The book is fairly dark and does a fair job setting up a good atmosphere for suspense. Feig opted to add his own brand of humor, creating a film almost completely devoid of mystery and suspense. Instead of offering clues for the audience to pick up and figure out on their own (before the big reveals), the audience learns of new developments as they happen. There’s no time for the audience to figure anything out, and most of the big revelations are completely out of the blue.
Feig also does a terrible job showcasing the passage of time. There’s almost no indication of how much time passes from Emily’s disappearance to Stephanie starting her investigation and the results of her efforts. In movies such as Bridesmaids, The Heat, or even Spy, Feig’s humor and aversion to men work beautifully. In A Simple Favor (and Ghostbusters) it completely kills the movie. Some people will surely find enjoyment out of A Simple Favor, but you’ll need to go in with fairly low expectations.
If you were able to remove Feig’s influence from the film, you’d be left with something worthwhile. Anna Kendrick is a little over the top as Stephanie Smothers, but she adds a bit of fun and humor to the film. Blake Lively is perfect as Emily Nelson, depicting a strong and assertive woman with a story arc that devolves into near lunacy. Henry Golding was one of the weaker aspects of Crazy Rich Asians, and while he’s not spectacular here, he’s convincing enough, especially as Emily’s crazy side starts to appear.
Going into A Simple Favor, if you’re expecting a suspenseful mystery, or anything even remotely resembling Gone Girl or Searching, you’ll be disappointed. If you go in expecting a light-hearted Paul Feig film you’ll also likely be disappointed. This film was made for people to turn off their brains and laugh at the ignorance unfolding on-screen. There’s certainly an audience for that kind of film, but it’s not what you’d expect if you’ve read the book or simply watched the trailers for A Simple Favor. Your best bet is to skip this one in theaters and wait for it to hit Netflix or premium cable channels.
About A Simple Favor
Synopsis: A Simple Favor, directed by Paul Feig, centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town.
Director: Paul Feig
Writers: Jessica Sharzer
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding
Runtime: 1 Hour, 57 Minutes