While this comedic thriller starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively got an 82 percent review on Rotten Tomatoes, I left the theater confused because of the many unnecessary twists in "A Simple Favor."
The first scene is a shot of Kendrick, supermom Stephanie, explaining to her mommy-vlogging audience how her best friend Emily has disappeared. She goes on to explain the events of the days prior.
Emily and Stephanie meet one day at an after-school pick-up, and of course, as only Blake Lively can, Emily makes a dramatic and very stylish entrance. Emily and Stephanie become friends quickly.
A couple days later, Emily tells Stephanie to pick up her child from school and does not return, and Stephanie makes it her mission to find her. This mission becomes side tracked as Stephanie has an affair with Emily's husband.
The whole point of this movie is the question: what happened to Emily? However, this question is answered about halfway through the movie when Emily calls Stephanie, revealing she faked her death, to confront Stephanie about the affair.
This movie lost me when Emily meets up with her husband, who actually thought she was dead, and threatens him to stick to the plan. The whole point of Emily playing dead is to collect insurance money so she and her husband can get out of debt. It is never fully revealed if her husband knew about the whole plan or not, leaving me confused.
The movie continues to reveal Emily, whose real name is Faith, had a twin sister. Emily was able to disappear because she killed her twin sister and stole her identity. Unfortunately, this part of the subplot was not very clear since it was crammed in under five minutes. This poorly-explained back story left me even more confused about Emily’s motives.
After everything seems to return back to normal and the movie might finally end, Stephanie tries to murder Emily and her husband for using her in their insurance fraud scheme. This attempted murder turns out to be a ploy to get Emily to confess, and Stephanie gets footage of Emily shooting her husband in the shoulder. The movie ends with Emily thriving in jail, and Stephanie having over a million views on her mommy vlog—all loose-ends tied up.
Killing someone to get insurance money is as cliché as it gets in a thriller. While I do not find this movie’s overall plot to be anything remotely original, the deliveries from Kendrick and Lively are nothing short of amazing. Kendrick adds her trademark quips here-and-there, making this movie as much of a comedy as a thriller. Lively creates a character who is ultra-femme, teaching Kendrick to stop apologizing all the time and to own her sexuality, not hide it. While I do not think either character will be any little girl’s role model, Kendrick and Lively give this movie its high-rating, not the confusing and twisting plot.