A Simple Favor is a tough one to process and define.  It’s a quirky crime drama that goes quite dark, but in a relatively light way. As weird as it is, it somehow works, because it pairs Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Mr. Right, Up in the Air) plays a goody-two-shoes single mommy vlogger named Stephanie who becomes besties with a sly and stylish PR executive named Emily (Lively, The Age of Adeline, “Gossip Girl”, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). The two have very little in common, except they both have young sons who attend the same school and clamor for a playdate. Whip up a few afternoon martinis, engage in some gal-pal chat about deepest, darkest secrets, and throw in a cute husband (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians), and you’ve got the makings of a stylish, twisty thriller moored in Emily’s sudden and mysterious disappearance.

The film was directed by Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids) and written by Jessica Sharzer (Nerve, “American Horror Story”), based on the novel by Darcey Bell. If you’ve read the book, chances are you know how this one plays out. For everyone else, no spoilers. You just have to go with it, and embrace its themes of love and loyalty, betrayal, murder, revenge and complicated friendship. Veteran actress Jean Smart shows up in one of her trademark solid but ‘blink and you might miss it’ supporting roles to deliver one of the film’s most prophetic lines, “Some children are just born rotten”. Truer words…

And Golding – who most people probably never heard of before this year – holds his own in his second female-dominated flick in less than two months. The newcomer is still basking in the glow of the box office success of Crazy Rich Asians and here he is again! I don’t expect A Simple Favor to make nearly the same splash. But it is oddly entertaining. Emphasis on the odd.

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