Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, adapted from the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell, is laden with the kind of delicious, over-the-top drama suburban housewives daydream of while longing for a way to relieve the tedium of their lives. It checks off all the boxes of their favorite soap opera arcs – affairs, murder mysteries, lavish homes, chic pant suits – and grounds it all with a relatable, unassuming, seemingly “normal” figure.
Anna Kendrick fills out the role of that “normal” figure perfectly as widow Stephanie Smothers, who has a throng of moms that follow her cooking vlog, which she records during the day while her son is at school. Kendrick’s natural talent for witty remarks and one-liners helps Stephanie keep her head above water after she meets Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) through their children, who happen to be best friends.
Benefitting from her turn as a New York City socialite a la Gossip Girl, Lively is immediately believable as the poised, enigmatic, get-what-she-wants Emily, disinterested and bored with Stephanie until she starts sharing her deepest secrets goaded on by copious amounts of day drinking. After that the two bond quickly – thanks copious day drinking – which leaves Stephanie understandably concerned when Emily goes mising. Emily’s husband, Sean (Henry Golding), explains that, as long as their son is taken care of, Emily can be prone to disappearing for days on end.
Once a missing person’s report is filed and the police become involved, Stephanie starts to shift the focus of her vlog to solving the mystery that she’s become an accomplice to. With some help from her fellow mom viewers, Stephanie pieces together Emily’s troubled past, developing an edge similar to her missing friend’s, and a thrilling game of cat and mouse ensues.
Filled with plenty of gasp-worthy moments, A Simple Favor is a cinematic treat as the season’s change. Leave your summery innocence behind you just like Stephanie and harden yourself to take down anyone who tries to cross or manipulate you this fall and winter.
A Simple Favor is out in theaters today.