A Simple Favor (film)
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A Simple Favor is a 2018 American black comedy mystery 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 best friend.
|A Simple Favor|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Feig|
|Screenplay by||Jessica Sharzer|
|Based on||A Simple Favor|
by Darcey Bell
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Edited by||Brent White|
|Box office||$97.5 million|
A Simple Favor was released in the United States on September 14, 2018, by Lionsgate. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the plot twists and performances of Kendrick and Lively, and was a box office success, grossing $97.2 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.
Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a widowed single mother who runs a vlog with crafts and recipes. Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) is a PR director for a fashion company and whose son Nicky attends the same elementary school as Stephanie's son Miles. Emily and Stephanie become best friends, arranging play dates for the boys. Over martinis, they exchange confessions, where Stephanie admits 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 Nicky while Sean is in London attending to his injured mother. After two days of Emily not returning her calls, Stephanie calls Emily's employer, Dennis Nylon, and they tell her she is in Miami. Stephanie calls Sean who calls the police. Emily had told both Stephanie and Sean that she hates having her picture taken, leading Stephanie to sneak into Emily's work and find a photo, which she uses to create missing person 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 the car is discovered near a summer camp, where police find her drowned body in the lake. Stephanie and Sean develop a bond through grief and taking care of the boys, which turns into a relationship and Stephanie moves in with him. 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, send Stephanie an insulting message about her trust with Chris, causing Stephanie to recall how her husband, Davis, suspected her relationship with her half-brother and questioned the paternity of Miles. He confronted Chris during a car ride, which resulted in a crash that killed them both.
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 gives Stephanie 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. Meanwhile, Emily surprises Sean at a cafe and tells him about her plan to collect the insurance money to resolve their financial issues.
Stephanie lures Emily into meeting her through cryptic messages on her vlog. Emily explains that she is Faith and that the twins set the fire to kill their abusive father. The two fled and planned to rejoin later, but Hope never appeared. Emily worked hard building a career and a family when, 16 years later, Hope contacted her. Hope attempted to blackmail her for a million dollars, threatening to confess about the arson, so Emily drowned Hope in the lake. Emily lies and tells Stephanie that Sean planned the insurance scam.
Emily is angered by Sean's love for Stephanie, while Stephanie is angered by Sean's eagerness to rejoin Emily. Stephanie agrees to help Emily reappear to the public and frame Sean. 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. Emily predicts their ruse and has disabled the microphones. Emily confesses to the 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 after being struck by a car.
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's vlog has one million followers and is being turned into a morning show, and that she has also become a part-time private detective.
- Anna Kendrick as Stephanie Smothers
- Blake Lively as Emily Nelson / Claudia / Hope & Faith McLanden
- Henry Golding as Sean Townsend
- Linda Cardellini as Diana Hyland
- Joshua Satine as Miles Smothers
- Ian Ho as Nicky Townsend
- Andrew Rannells as Darren
- Jean Smart as Margaret McLanden
- Rupert Friend as Dennis Nylon
- Eric Johnson as Davis
- Dustin Milligan as Chris
- Bashir Salahuddin as Detective Somerville
- Glenda Braganza as Kerry Glenda
- Kelly McCormack as Stacy
- Aparna Nancherla as Sona
- Danielle Bourgon as Grace Smothers
- Gia Sandhu as Valerie
- Paul Jurewicz as Bobby Chelkowsky
- Sarah Baker as Maryanne Chelkowsky
- Nicole Peters as Hope McLanden
- Lauren Peters as Faith McLanden
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.
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. On July 26, 2017, Kendrick and Lively were confirmed, while Henry Golding joined the cast as the husband of Lively's character. Linda Cardellini was announced as having been cast in an undisclosed role in September 2017, and Andrew Rannells, Jean Smart, and Rupert Friend were later added.
The film was released on September 14, 2018.
On May 1, 2018, Blake Lively hid all pictures from her Instagram account to promote the film. The first teaser trailer was released on May 2, 2018, followed by the second teaser trailer, which was released on May 24.
A Simple Favor has grossed $53.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $43.6 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $97.2 million, against a production budget of $20 million.
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. 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. It dropped just 35% in its second weekend, to $10.4 million, finishing second, behind newcomer The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 231 reviews, with an average rating of 6.99/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". 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.
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