Based on the book by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favor follows Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie as she begins looking into the mysterious disappearance of her friend (Blake Lively’s Emily) and subsequently uncovers a far more complex scenario than she ever expected. Filmmaker Paul Feig delivers a fairly faithful adaptation that does, as expected, suffer from an overlong running time, with the less-than-tight atmosphere especially noticeable within the picture’s flabby, padded-out midsection (ie far too much emphasis is placed on Stephanie’s aforementioned investigation) – which does ensure, ultimately, that A Simple Favor is never quite able to become the thrilling mystery that Feig is obviously striving for (and it doesn’t help, certainly, that the filmmaker has infused the proceedings with all the style of a generic movie-of-the-week). It’s clear, then, that the film’s somewhat watchable atmosphere is due primarily to the superb efforts of its star, Kendrick, as the actress delivers a personable, entertaining turn that elevates the material on an ongoing basis and provides the movie with its few wholeheartedly compelling moments. But the mostly flat vibe diminishes the impact of A Simple Favor‘s myriad of climactic revelations, which cements the film’s place as an almost passable misfire that should’ve topped out at about 90 minutes.
** out of ****