A Simple Favour (2018)

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Paul Feig directs Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding in this comedy thriller about a single mom who gets entangled with a femme fatale who goes missing. 

What is it? WHAT IS IT?! I’d have enthusiastically gotten onboard with any one of the films this tries to be from scene to discordant scene. Colourful neo-noir. Hitchcockian farce. Broad Gone Girl spoof. Kinky soccer mom wish fulfilment fantasy. You want to like A Simple Favour but it is all a bit too much. Incest and 180 degree U-turn character growth arcs… and potty mouthed kids… and Anna Kendrick’s ditzy klutz twice being thrown on a bed to be ravished by men she clearly shouldn’t be fucking… and sassy bitches sassing. All happen jarringly in a film that should be… well… simple. It feels as jumbled and as uncertain as The Predator did last week. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were also extensive reshoots here. The lead investigator changes from act to act, for no real point. The ending is garbled… the twists ineffective. Frustratingly it squanders two strong star turns. Lively looks fantastic, her comically chic wardrobe is spectacular and she confidently seduces us with less screentime than she deserves. Kendrick goes at her hyper super mom role with admirable quirk, but she is weighed down by subplots that mark her out as a potential villain. That’s fine to keep us guessing but leaves us without a solid protagonist for a good hour. You can’t have the same character be investigator, patsy and possible antagonist concurrently. All the while putting them in slapsticky situations. And then expect the mystery elements to engage. Far too sloppy for something so polished looking. What starts out brimming with possibilities, ends on weak punchlines and patience testing confrontations.

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