A Simple Favor (2018)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.  

USA, 2018.  , .  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

plays a suburban single mom who is dazzled by the glamorous, aloof mother of her son’s friend at school (, giving a terrific star turn), a publicist for a Manhattan fashion designer who drinks martinis in the afternoon and swears in front of her kid so you know she’s cool.  Lively hosts Kendrick in her glamorous mansion while complaining that her author husband (, who is never convincing as either writer, teacher or human) is lazy and a loser and that they have their beautiful house and not much else.   Kendrick, awkward and jokey, is impressed by this woman but also gains a genuine fondness for her, so that by the time Lively asks her to pick up her son from school and look after him while she works late, our heroine thinks nothing of it.  Two days later when the boy is still at her house and hasn’t been picked up, our mousy little heroine begins to worry; digging through Lively’s personal life and finding mysterious clues to further mysteries, she is suddenly embroiled deep in family secrets, one of which involves a rare jewel in this mess of a movie in the form of a cameo by .  Intoxicating and fun thanks to a balanced blend of Kendrick’s Tina Fey-esque self-deprecating humour, and a visual style swathed in gleaming cocktail glasses and haute couture costume design, this ridiculous film piles up the details and then proves them all to be brainless red herrings by the time it reaches its nonsense conclusion.  Director Paul Feig is completely out of his element in trying to direct a thriller with a humorously cynical core; an incest subplot in a dark girl-talk comedy should point to a kind of satire on Stepford-esque suburban life, but there’s nothing quite so thoughtful here, and ending it on catching a villain (without having really built up to that emotional release) is illogical and inept.

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