Sure, it’s got lots of pretty clothes that would be the hotspot sale on Black Friday. Sure, it’s got Anna Kendrick, whom many say is a role model because of her outer beauty. But you know what? Neither of those things matter, because they’re relied on to hold up a film high in fructose. The sugar of A Simple Favor may taste sweet, except the rush of its evil intentions churns regret once your health turns detrimental after swallowing its poorly put together eye candy.
At least the candy does look sweet in its display case; the makeup crew demonstrate tremendous effort to bring out Anna Kendrick’s beauty with or without mascara. The costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus (The Cider House Rules, Hidden Figures) also complements the Pitch Perfect star well while keeping it supportive toward the narrative. Kalfus dresses Anna in a big yellow jacket to divert our attention from any covered-up intentions, just one of the many popping colors that complement the film’s desired retro style. The look remains consistent right from the opening credits that flash against zesty Spanish music, carrying on these sharp colors to contrast two sides of our ideal 2018 American woman.
On one end, there are Anna Kendrick’s cutesy Pinterest mom DIY projects. On the other, there is Blake Lively’s aesthetics of a woman paid more than a man. Now as for the costar’s character, Blake first appears with high heels pounding on wet cement, a growing image of sophistication that still can’t match the size of her secretive closet. Between these two, they supposedly become close friends after knowing each other for just a couple of days, as represented by a friendship bracelet Anna makes for Blake. No, it doesn’t matter if Blake has a painting of her “pet beaver” in the living room, there’s just something about these two that meshes well.
There’s where the problem with this film starts.
The two leads’ “close” friendship of what looks like two days is never believable, mainly because of the awful writing void of any believable grief that gives neither actress any depth to work off. Blake Lively’s character is merely overpowered, but even if this had the best writer in the world, it wouldn’t help much. Blake just puts on her own show without any chemistry with anyone in the cast. Odds are, she decided to play a mother who chugs alcohol around little kids by merely acting as if drunk on a typical Saturday night.
In fact, there was probably some alcohol hopping all over the sets during the production, as it appears these producers like to annihilate a child’s innocence by making one little boy drop an F-bomb hard. That’s fine if it serves story purpose, except it doesn’t, it just comes off forced and lazy, and nobody seemed to bother giving the child actor any context of what he was screaming.
There literally is no other attention to story anywhere else, as one missed opportunity for clever symbolism sticks out: after one police officer mentions following metaphorical bread crumbs to solve a case, the very next scene features Caesar salad with bread crumbs in it. It tries to connect to a Hansel & Gretel scenario where Anna feels like the two children inside Blake the witch’s mega-expensive gingerbread house of a home, unfortunately that piece of symbolism has no payoff. In addition, many unnecessary flashbacks get explained again the same way immediately after thrown into the final edit. As if the storytelling isn’t lazy enough, Anna claims to be a “struggling” single mom—yet can purchase expensive technology for her mommy vlog… and the occasional spy equipment. Can’t make this stuff up, folks!
In most every role Anna plays nowadays, she’s either a clueless love interest (like in The Accountant) or “Slutty McSlut-slut,” (like in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) but here, Anna combines the cluelessness with the sex-object in a way that thinks it’s so classy. Part of the problem is that most of the project’s other creative minds have comedic backgrounds, resulting in a collaborated direction that moves too quick, and Anna, unfortunately, being the leading role, gets the last laugh. If these producers wanted to cast her purely for the marketing, they didn’t even do that right! Case in point: the little black dress Anna wears in the poster is never shown in the movie itself—just a longer version of it. Hey, got to show those legs to lure in those box office numbers!
There truly is evil lurking everywhere in this wannabee thriller with an ultimate intent on not suspense, but advertising whatever the celebs are wearing. So, do yourself A Simple Favor by avoiding this Macy’s commercial.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Mejia, Paola. “ANNA KENDRICK Y BLAKE LIVELY SE BESAN EN A SIMPLE FAVOR.” Digital image. Lesbicanarias. Disqus, 29 Aug 2018. Web. <https://lesbicanarias.es/2018/08/29/anna-kendrick-y-blake-lively-se-besan-en-a-simple-favor/>.
A Simple Favor. Lionsgate. Web. <https://asimplefavor.movie/cast>.