A Simple Favor is a 2018 American crime comedy thriller film directed by Paul Feig. Its screenplay by Jessica Sharzer is based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. It 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 elegant and mysterious friend.

A Simple Favor
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Feig
Screenplay byJessica Sharzer
Based onA Simple Favor
by Darcey Bell
Produced by
  • Paul Feig
  • Jessie Henderson
CinematographyJohn Schwartzman
Edited byBrent White
Music byTheodore Shapiro
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]

It was released in the United States on September 14, 2018, by Lionsgate. Critics praised the plot twists, and the performances of Kendrick, Lively and Golding. It grossed $97 million worldwide on a $20 million budget. A sequel is in development, with Kendrick and Lively set to reprise their roles, and Feig returning to direct.

Plot edit

Widowed single mother Stephanie Smothers runs a vlog featuring crafts and recipes for parents. She becomes friends with Emily Nelson, the mother of her son's schoolmate and a PR director for a fashion company, and they exchange confessions over martinis. Stephanie shares that as a teenager, she had sex with her half-brother Chris. Emily is frustrated by the lack of success of her husband, English professor Sean Townsend, and their (well-hidden) poor financial situation.

Stephanie babysits Emily's son while Sean is in London. After two days of Emily not returning calls, she learns from Emily's boss, Dennis Nylon, that she is in Miami. Stephanie calls Sean, who contacts the police. Trying to get to the bottom of Emily's disappearance, she makes missing person flyers using a photo of Emily that she found hidden on her desk.

Detective Summerville reports that Emily lied about flying to Miami, and that her drowned body had been discovered in the lake at a summer camp in Michigan. Stephanie and Sean share their grief and begin a sexual relationship. Summerville 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 her.

Stephanie receives an insulting message apparently from Emily about her tryst with her half-brother Chris. She has a flashback of her late husband suspecting her infidelity, possibly leading him to cause the car crash that killed both him and Chris.

Investigating Emily's past, Stephanie meets Diana Hyland, who seems to have been a lover of Emily and who had painted a portrait of her. Diana says that the painting is actually of her muse Claudia, whom she describes as a con artist who disappeared. Her information leads Stephanie to a yearbook that shows Emily to be a girl named Hope McLanden, and who had an identical twin named Faith. Stephanie visits Margaret, the mother of the twins, who explains that at 16, the twins had set fire to the family house, killing their father, and disappeared.

Meanwhile, while Stephanie is away on these investigative trips, Emily surprises Sean by reappearing, and tells him that she plans to collect the insurance money and leave the country. Stephanie later contrives to meet with Emily, who explains that she and her sister indeed started the fire to kill their abusive father.

The sisters fled separately with a plan to reunite later, but Faith didn't turn up as agreed. Emily then built a career and family but then Faith reappeared 14 years later. Now an alcoholic and heroin addict, Faith threatened to turn them both in to the authorities by confessing the patricide unless paid a million dollars by Emily. After assenting to the demand, Emily drowned Faith in the lake (as revealed to the movie audience), but Emily tells Stephanie that Faith committed suicide and that Sean planned the insurance scam.

Emily and Stephanie are both angered by Sean's relationship with the other and decide to frame Sean. He is arrested and released on bail. Stephanie has a change of heart and stages an argument with Sean in front of Emily in order to incriminate her while police-planted microphones are recording the meeting. Stephanie fakes shooting Sean.

Emily, having predicted their ruse and disabled the microphones, confesses her crimes while holding the pair at gunpoint, saying that she will stage their murder-suicide. Shooting Sean in the shoulder, she turns the gun on Stephanie, who reveals that a hidden camera is livestreaming the entire event on her vlog. Emily attempts to escape, only to be hit by a car driven by Stephanie's friend Darren. She is arrested immediately after.

Closing text says that Emily was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Sean's second novel was a bestseller and he became a successful professor at Berkeley, and Stephanie is said to be dating another man and that her vlog has a million followers and is being developed as a TV show and also that she is a part-time private detective. In a mid-credits scene, Emily is seen winning a basketball game in prison.

Cast edit

Production edit

Development edit

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]

Pre-production edit

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 it 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]

Filming edit

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

Release edit

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

Marketing edit

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]

Reception edit

Box office edit

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, it 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 $16.0 million over the weekend, finishing third, behind The Predator and The Nun.[2] It dropped just 36% in its second weekend, to $10.4 million, finishing second, behind newcomer The House with a Clock in Its Walls.[14]

Critical response edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 257 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. 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 41 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 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]

Sequel edit

In May 2022, a sequel was announced, with Feig returning to direct the film, and Kendrick and Lively set to reprise their roles. Lionsgate will co-produce the film with Amazon MGM Studios.[18][19]

References edit

  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. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  16. ^ "A Simple Favor reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Nicholson, Amy (September 9, 2018). "Film Review: 'A Simple Favor'". Variety.
  18. ^ Galuppo, Mia (May 11, 2022). "'A Simple Favor' Sequel Set With Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick Returning". The Hollywood Reporter. MRC and Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 11, 2022). "'A Simple Favor' Sequel Set With Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively & Paul Feig Returning For Amazon Studios & Lionsgate". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 11, 2022.

External links edit