The funny thing about A Simple Favor is that it’s funny. The director and editor come from comedic backgrounds and have worked with Judd Apatow. The editor, Brent White, actually cut Talladega Nights, Anchorman and 40-Year-Old Virgin. With A Simple Favor the influences of Hitchcock, Apatow and as D ever so aptly nailed, De Palma are plainly evident. The film is truly cinematic and could just as easily be enjoyed with the sound off. However, there are clever moments like the too many croutons in the Caesar salad loud crunching sounds at dinner, alluding to following the breadcrumbs of this mystery.
As you faithful reader are aware, the L & D are a known quantity at the Appleton Valley Grand Marcus Theater™ and our confidential informant behind the ticket counter immediately let us know that Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) uses some spicy language in this one. I promised to use my earmuffs. Meanwhile, Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) really is the one who rips a blue streak here. She’s a Porsche drivin’, Gucci wearin’, heat packin’, double martini with a lemon twist drinkin’ at noon badass…who doesn’t give a fuck. Our c.i. missed this entirely.
On the suspense side, the film reminded me of one of my recent favorites, the under appreciated The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt. On the style and sort of goofball factor side there are plenty of homages to De Palma. For example when someone gets slammed by a car —which you know, would normally knock you out— but instead gets on their knees and then punches a guy in the nuts…that’s very DePalma to me in the given context of a mystery film. And also very Apatow, in any context.
I won’t say more here except to say, A Simple Favor is an enjoyable, sophisticated, humorous, slightly absurd but never off the rails, tightly spun tale that keeps you wondering what will happen next the whole way through. It’s really a wonderful little film that I hope to watch again and again.