The Disaster Artists: A Review Of 'A Simple Favor'
A new Paul Feig film is always something I look forward to. I loved his Bridesmaids and Spy, and except for the last quarter which descended to formulaic popcorn, enjoyed his female reboot of Ghostbusters—well before Ragnarok, kudos to Feig for unveiling Chris Hemsworth’s funny bone in Ghostbusters. And I must share that I enjoyed the trailer for A Simple Favor, loving the music and snippets of bitchiness that Blake Lively was displaying. So I watched the film, and perhaps it’s because my expectations were sky high, but I have to confess I was sorely disappointed.
The pairing of Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick seems ill-matched. They attack their respective roles with gusto—Lively as a gin-guzzling, fashion PR head who takes a laissez faire attitude to parenting, while Kendrick is a single mom who vlogs and can be downright annoying as a paragon of perfect parenting—but their scenes together never quite ignite. To me, it seemed more like they were just saying their lines without really connecting to each other.
And then there’s Henry Golding, fresh from Crazy Rich Asians, playing the writer/husband of Blake’s character. Unfortunately, he’s asked to do more here, and he falls flat—sounds and looks great, but it seems too much like a walk in the park even when required to show anguish, indecision, or inner conflict. In Crazy Rich Asians, it was Constance Wu (and Michelle Yeoh) carrying the acting chops in most of Golding’s scenes, and that becomes rather evident here.
And this all is a shame, as there is a story here. As in Big Little Lies, there’s a satirical edge in the treatment of suburban moms and how they try strive for perfection when totally flawed (Kendrick’s character). And you have the uber-bitch who is thrust into the role of mother, while being psychologically imbalanced and too free-spirited (Lively’s character). Feig even throws in a detecting element, with disappearances, suicide or murder for profit, all acting as elements that keep us guessing. So, it all looks great on paper, plus there’s a wonderful musical score that’s employed to set the mood and ambiance of the film. So I’m left wondering why it all went wrong?
I know this is a lightweight romp, Feig giving us a glimpse of a darker, sinister world; but perhaps in trying too hard to stretch, he’s ended up giving us uneven and half-baked. It’s not very funny as Spy was, and neither does it ever get very suspenseful. It’s never really bad, but it just isn’t vintage Feig—t’s a martini or flute of champagne that’s gone off or flat.
Photos from @asimplefavor