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Rated 3.07 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Fun and Mysterious
by James Colt Harrison

Funny, mysterious, fashionable, stylish, bitchy. Those are some of the words that describe A Simple Favor, the new Anna Kendrick-Blake Lively female fest. Nobody does “nerdy” better than Kendrick. She even describes herself as one in her funny 2016 autobiography “Scrappy Little Nobody.” So, she has now proven she can dance, sing, write books and act.

Even though this film is more of a who-done-it and not a musical, director Paul Feig has given Kendrick every opportunity to perform as though she is in a music video. She raps when driving kids to school; she bangs soup spoons on the kitchen counter; she bursts into rythmn and rhyme as though it is the natural thing to do. And for her, it is spontaneous joy and love for music that justifies her character’s musical outbursts.

Ms. Kendrick plays a do-gooder (Stephanie) who likes to help out in every activity -- be it at school, acting as a nanny for neighborhood kids, and being a goody two-shoes all around. She’s not obnoxious about it -- just a little too sweet for a sugar jar. She meets fellow mom Emily by volunteering to watch her little boy after school. It seems Emily has an important job in the city that requires working odd-ball hours. They become friends.

Gorgeous blonde actress Blake Lively plays Emily to perfection. Eat your hearts out ladies because she is happily married to handsome hunk move star Ryan Reynolds in real life! Emily, a glamour puss former New York model, is now working for a prominent fashion house in the publicity department. She’s chic, beautifully dressed, knock-out gorgeous and just a tad eccentric. Well, a lot eccentric! She’s unpredictable, annoying, funny, exasperating -- and has a knack for sharp one-liners and pithy comments that tickle the funny bone or give you chils down your spine. Emily has the best and funniest lines or comments in the film. Who is she, really?

When Emiy goes missing, Stephanie gets into high-gear in an effort to find her. Emily’s husband, played by newcomer Henry Golding -- who made a huge hit in Crazy Rich Asians -- leans on Stephanie to help find his wife. Golding is a new find and will make an interesting leading man in films. Half Asian and half British, he has a charming accent to prove it. He’s also catnip for the ladies.

A Simple Favor is not a movie in which you can figure out things right away. Many avenues are explored to find Emily, and on each road, there is a twist you are not expecting. That’s what makes the film so much fun, mysterious, and a little chilling at at times.

Blake Lively makes her character especially intriguing. She’s a combination of model, scamp, temptress, friend and enemy, all rolled into a luscious and evil package you can never figure out. Openly gay actor Andrew Rannells also adds some fun playing a single parent who gets involved in all the “mom” activities at school.

A Simple Favor is much more than you think it may be. It is not as simple as the title and will keep you interested throughout. It’s a very, very good end-of-summer movie.

(Released by Lionsgate and rated "R" by MPAA.)

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