MOVIE BUFF-ET: Crafty black comedy ‘A Simple Favor’ delivers thrills, laughs


I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I bought a ticket for the sassy, noir-ish black comedy “A Simple Favor.”

I’d seen the commercials featuring stars Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, who deliver killer performances in this campy adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel of the same name, but the amount of biting humor and crazy twists and turns of the third act pleasantly caught me off guard in the film directed by Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids” and the recent “Ghostbusters” remake).

New In Local Theaters

  • A Simple Favor (R) 1 hr. 57 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale)
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  • Unbroken: Path to Redemption (PG-13) 1 hr. 38 min.
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  • The Wife (R) 1 hr. 40 min.
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  • The Riot Act (PG-13) 1 hr. 41 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
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Kendrick’s character Stephanie Smothers is a hovering, widowed mother, who in her spare time — which is considerable — video blogs mommy advice into the ether. Though she has few followers, Feig craftily uses her rapid-fire overly anxious vlogging as an effective narration tool for the film that allows us to learn about Stephanie’s relationship with the enigmatic Emily (Lively), who has gone missing.

While Stephanie is the shunned mom by a gaggle of “in-parents” at the private school her son Miles (Joshua Satine) attends, Lively plays Emily, the aloof mom of Nicky (Ian Ho), who has become a friend of Miles.

Emily is the sexy suit-and-fedora wearing, Porsche-driving talk of school because of her icy charisma is alluring and intimidating.

Emily wouldn’t give a mom like Stephanie or any of the other parents the time of day, except for the persistence of little Nicky who wants a play date with Miles.

Though the two moms are seemingly oil and water, the barrier between the two women falls quickly as they slurp afternoon martinis and share each other’s stories while their boys are off being boys. Stephanie becomes enamored if not obsessed with Emily — her style, her job, her writer-professor husband Sean (Henry Golding) — the more she get to know her.

Then Emily goes missing, leaving her son in Stephanie’s care — the simple favor from the film’s title.

Here the film begins to twist and turn with betrayals, reversals, secrets and lies, and a dead body too boot. It’s all a bit madcap and out there, but still immensely fun to watch. The logic doesn’t necessarily hold up, but the thrills and humor certainly do.

Kendrick and Lively’s chemistry make the movie. One hopes they work together again with a script and direction as juicy and bold as this one.

(R) 1 hr. 57 min.
Grade: B

Classic Corner

Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary

(PG-13) 2 hr. 25 min.


Perhaps the key testament to a director’s greatness is how well his films hold up over time. If that is the case, Steven Spielberg certainly deserves his ranking among America’s best.

Films like “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” have proven to be timeless and continue to thrill audiences whether they have seen the movie a half a dozen times or if they are newly introduced to the pictures.

“Jurassic Park, which is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary with two special showings at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Malco Razorback Cinema, is another of Spielberg’s films that falls into the timeless classic category.

Despite two and half decades passing and four sequels being made, Spielberg’s original adventure to the island of Isla Nublar is just as scary, thrilling, and fun as the day it opened back in 1993.

The computer-generated imagery by Industrial Light and Magic still holds up today and remains more effective than most of the CGI we see in films today.

Sir Richard Attenborough plays philanthropist John Hammond who heads a team of researchers who figure out how to clone dinosaurs from ancient DNA, harvested from amber deposits. Hammond is building a theme park around the re-born creatures to monetize his research and discovery.

Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum play a trio of doctors who are invited by Hammond to marvel at his work along with his grandchildren Lex and Tim before the park opens to the public. Of course the tour goes awry when a tropical storm hits the island and some of the more dangerous dinos escape and begin to track and attack the visitors.

The film is a grand spectacle of filmmaking with Spielberg perfectly using CGI to amplify his cautionary of tale of science run amok as told through eyes of both scientists and children.

It’s a film made for the big screen, and the special showings are a great opportunity for fans of the movie to see it on the big screen once again or to see the movie presented as it was intended for the first time.