A Simple Favor (film)

A Simple Favor is a 2018 American black comedy crime thriller film directed by Paul Feig from a screenplay by Jessica Sharzer, based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. The film stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend, and Jean Smart and follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich friend.

A Simple Favor
A Simple Favor.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Feig
Produced by
  • Paul Feig
  • Jessie Henderson
Screenplay byJessica Sharzer
Based onA Simple Favor
by Darcey Bell
Music byTheodore Shapiro
CinematographyJohn Schwartzman
Edited byBrent White
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • September 14, 2018 (2018-09-14)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$97.6 million[3]

A Simple Favor was released in the United States on September 14, 2018 by Lionsgate. Critics praised the plot twists, and the performances of Kendrick and Lively. The film grossed $97 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.


Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a widowed single mother who runs a vlog featuring crafts and recipes for parents. Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) is a PR director for a fashion company. The two women become friends when their sons share a play date. Over martinis, they exchange confessions; Stephanie admits to Emily that as a teenager, she had sex with her half-brother Chris. Emily expresses her frustration at the lack of success of her husband, English professor Sean Townsend (Henry Golding), and their poor financial situation.

Emily has a work crisis and asks Stephanie to babysit her son while Sean is in London attending to his injured mother. After two days with Emily not returning her calls, Stephanie calls Emily's employer, Dennis Nylon, and is told that Emily is in Miami. Stephanie then calls Sean, who contacts the police. Trying to solve her disappearance, Stephanie looks for answers by sneaking into Emily's office, where she comes across a photo of Emily that was hidden on her desk. Stephanie had wanted to make missing person flyers but could not find any pictures of Emily until finding this one; she uses it to make the posters.

Detective Summerville reports that Emily lied about flying to Miami and that she rented a car. A fan of Stephanie's vlog reports seeing Emily in Michigan and Emily's car is discovered near a summer camp where police find her drowned body in the lake. Stephanie and Sean bond over their shared grief and begin a sexual relationship. Detective Summerville later reveals to Stephanie that Emily had severe liver damage, a large amount of heroin in her system and that Sean had recently taken out a $4 million life insurance policy on Emily.

Emily, alive and in hiding, sends Stephanie an insulting message about her tryst with her half-brother, causing Stephanie to recall how her late husband, Davis, suspected her infidelity and may have intentionally caused the car crash that took both his and her half-brother's lives. Stephanie investigates Emily's past, speaking to Diana Hyland, an artist who painted a portrait of Emily. Diana says the girl in the painting is Claudia, her muse, and describes her as a con artist who disappeared. Stephanie asks about Michigan, and Diana provides information that leads Stephanie to a yearbook showing that Emily is actually Hope McLanden and that she has an identical twin named Faith McLanden. Stephanie meets with the twins' mother, Margaret, who explains that when they were 16 years old, the twins set fire to a wing of the house, killing their father. Meanwhile, Emily surprises Sean at their favorite restaurant and tells him about her plan to collect the insurance money to resolve their financial issues and leave the country.

Stephanie lures Emily into meeting her through cryptic messages on her vlog hinting when she would be at Emily's gravesite. Emily explains that she is Hope and that she and her sister started the fire to kill their abusive father. The two fled and planned to reunite later, but Faith never appeared. Emily worked hard building a career and a family when, 14 years later, Faith contacted her. Now an alcoholic and a heroin addict, Faith attempted to blackmail Emily for a million dollars, threatening to confess about the arson. After agreeing, the two went swimming in the lake and Emily drowned Faith. Emily lies to Stephanie, however, claiming that Faith committed suicide and that Sean planned the insurance scam.

Emily is angered by Sean's relationship with Stephanie, while Stephanie is angered by Sean's eagerness to rejoin Emily. Stephanie agrees to help Emily reappear to the public and frame Sean by making it look as if he had been abusing her. Sean is arrested and released on bail. Stephanie has a change of heart and stages a fake argument with Sean in front of Emily to incriminate her while police-planted microphones are recording. Stephanie then fakes shooting Sean. But Emily had predicted their ruse and had found and disabled the microphones. Emily confesses to her crimes and holds the pair at gunpoint, telling them she will kill them and stage a murder-suicide. She shoots Sean in the shoulder and turns the gun on Stephanie, who reveals that she has a hidden camera live-streaming the entire event on her vlog. Emily is arrested.

Closing text explains that Emily was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sean's second novel became a New York Times bestseller and he became a successful professor at Berkeley. Stephanie is dating another man. Her vlog has one million followers and is being turned into a morning show; she has also become a part-time private detective. In a post-credits scene, Emily is seen in prison, winning a basketball game against other prisoners.




In January 2016, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had bought the film rights to author Darcey Bell's novel A Simple Favor prior to the book's publication. The story was pitched as being similar to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Creative Artists Agency represented the movie rights in the deal with Fox.[4]


In June 2017, it was announced that A Simple Favor would be extricated from 20th Century Fox and instead be distributed by Lionsgate. It was also announced that the film would be directed by Paul Feig, with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively "in talks" for the lead roles.[5] On July 26, 2017, Kendrick and Lively were confirmed, while Henry Golding joined the cast as the husband of Lively's character.[6] Linda Cardellini was announced as having been cast in an undisclosed role in September 2017,[7] and Andrew Rannells, Jean Smart, and Rupert Friend were later added.[8]


A Simple Favor commenced principal photography on August 14, 2017, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[6] The film was shot in the Univisium 2.00:1 aspect ratio on Panavision Millennium DXL 8K cameras.


The film was released on September 14, 2018.[9]


On May 1, 2018, Blake Lively hid all pictures from her Instagram account to promote the film.[10] The first teaser trailer was released on May 2, 2018,[11] followed by the second teaser trailer, which was released on May 24.[12]


Box officeEdit

A Simple Favor grossed $53.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $44.1 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $97.6 million, against a production budget of $20 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, A Simple Favor was released alongside White Boy Rick, Unbroken: Path to Redemption and The Predator, and was projected to gross $12–15 million from 3,102 theaters in its opening weekend.[13] It made $5.9 million on its first day (including $900,000 from Thursday night previews) and $16.1 million over the weekend, finishing third, behind The Predator and The Nun.[2] It dropped just 35% in its second weekend, to $10.4 million, finishing second, behind newcomer The House with a Clock in Its Walls.[14]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 236 reviews, with an average rating of 6.98/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Twisty, twisted, and above all simply fun, A Simple Favor casts a stylish mommy noir spell strengthened by potent performances from Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively."[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 76% positive score.[2]

Amy Nicholson of Variety magazine wrote: "The film feels a lot like the Serge Gainsbourg number that Stephanie dances to in the kitchen: jazzy, a little sleazy, and worth a cult following."[17]


  1. ^ "A Simple Favor (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 16, 2018). "Why 'The Predator' Is Shorter Than 'Predators' At $24M & 'White Boy Rick' So Pale At $8M+ – Sunday Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "A Simple Favor (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  4. ^ McNary, Dave (January 29, 2016). "Fox Developing Murder Mystery 'A Simple Favor' as Movie (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  5. ^ Busch, Anita (June 19, 2017). "Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively in Talks To Star In 'A Simple Favor' For Paul Feig – Update". Deadline.
  6. ^ a b McNary, Dave (July 26, 2017). "'Crazy Rich Asians' Star Henry Golding Joins Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick's 'Simple Favor'". Variety.
  7. ^ Feig, Paul [@paulfeig] (September 15, 2017). "So excited to be back w/ Linda Cardellini on the set of #ASimpleFavor - our 1st time working together since Freaks & Geeks 17 years ago!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (May 2, 2018). "'A Simple Favor' Trailer: Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively Get Wrapped up in a Mystery". Collider. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  9. ^ McClintock, Pamela (February 26, 2018). "Lionsgate's 'Robin Hood' Relocates to Thanksgiving". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Opelka, Brenna (May 1, 2018). "Blake Lively weirdly deleted all her Instagram photos and is now exclusively following people named Emily Nelson". Business Insider. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Scott, Ryan (May 2, 2018). "A Simple Favor Trailer Pulls Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively Into a Mystery". MovieWeb. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Pendersen, Erik (May 24, 2018). "'A Simple Favor' Teaser: Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively In Thriller From Paul Feig". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Rubin, Rebeeca (September 11, 2018). "Box Office: 'The Predator' to Feast on 'A Simple Favor', 'White Boy Rick'". Variety. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 23, 2018). "'The House With A Clock In Its Walls' Sounding Near $27M Alarm; Counterprogramming Still In Deep Sleep". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  15. ^ "A Simple Favor (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "A Simple Favor reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Nicholson, Amy (September 9, 2018). "Film Review: 'A Simple Favor'". Variety.

External linksEdit