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Director Paul Feig follows his female-fronted Ghostbusters with this good-natured comedy-thriller about female friendship set in moneyed suburbia. A Simple Favour combines the school-gate politics of Big Little Lies with a Gone Girl-ish mystery, though lacks the edge of either. What it does have up its sleeve is Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively being deliriously funny together in career-high performances as mothers whose kids attend the same school.
Kendrick is Stephanie, an irritatingly perky stay-at-home mom with a YouTube channel on which she demonstrates how to sneak vegetables into kids’ snacks to an audience of a dozen or so. When her son makes a new friend at school, Stephanie is thrown together with the boy’s mother Emily (Lively), a terrifying fashion PR who appears to have it all – fabulous job, designer clothes, indecently attractive award-winning novelist husband. Emily listens to Serge Gainsbourg and has an enormous nude portrait of herself hanging up in the living room – that’s how unsuburban she is. When the two women become friends, the other parents bitchily gossip that Emily is using Stephanie as free childcare. But there does seem to be genuine affection between the two women. Or does there? When Emily vanishes, Stephanie turns Nancy Drew to investigate.
Kendrick and Lively have never been funnier, snapping one-liners at each other like elastic bands; the script is hyper-alert to the undercurrent of competitiveness between stay-at-home and working mums. But I wonder if Feig is too generous-natured to really twist the knife satirically. I could have done with a few of the below-belt punches that make TV’s Motherland so unmissable.
There is something a bit pudding-y here, too. A Simple Favour is neither straight-up comedy nor an out-and-out thriller. But it does all come good in the end with a hysterical action scene involving an electric car – showcasing Feig at his sublime silliest best.
Source: The Guardian
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