“Oh, you don’t want to be friends with me, trust me.”Emily
Lately Paul Feig has carved out a mainstream niche in typically light female-fronted films, varying from the excellent Bridesmaids to the disappointing Ghostbusters reboot. A Simple Favour takes a darker turn from the outset when an overachieving single mother searches for answers after her new best friend goes missing, but it never fully commits tonally in the way of Gone Girl. Anna Kendrick may seem miscast as a sleuth but her charming naïvité, narrating her discoveries through a vlog for mothers, is intentional. Blake Lively makes it believable that the troubled and often distanced Emily would draw people in despite her abrasiveness (she certainly won me over not just through her love of Martinis but by specifically referencing Dukes Bar and its particularly potent recipe for the cocktail). This all makes for an excellent first half — unfortunately the script then unravels with a need not just to offer revelations but repeatedly to retcon characters’ pasts. The resulting conclusion is cheapened almost to the point of parody.