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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Vlogger, the Slicker, and the Dick

A Simple Favor (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

coffee timeA distraught single mother Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) announces on her home cooking vlogHi, Moms! With Staphanie—that her best friend Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) has been missing for five days. Stephanie the vlogger met Emily the slicker when she made a dramatic entrance to Warfield Elementary School to pick up her little boy Nicky (Ian Ho) one day in the rain. Says Stephanie of Emily, “She's this wonderful, elegant person.” She works as the PR Director for a fashion magazine in the city. They had (adult) drinks together while their two kids had a play date. There Stephanie met Emily's husband Sean Townsend (Henry Golding) whom the news­paper will later describe as a “failed author, English professor, British national.” What­ever else he is, he's demonstratively affectionate with his wife. He's also friendly with his TA, and with Stephanie for that matter (“You two wanna get a room?”) Turns out he's a dick in terms of what part of his brain he thinks with.

Emily learns that Stephanie had lost her husband in a tragic auto accident. Luckily there was a life insurance policy on her man, which has helped with expenses. Emily and Sean seeing the benefit of it take out $4 million policies on each other. Then when Stephanie as “a simple favor” is watching Nicky, Emily vanishes. With a tip from a Hi, Moms! With Staphanie follower, the police find the car Emily rented, in Michigan at the bottom of Squaw Lake. Divers find a female body. The medical examiner finds clues it's Emily. The insurance company finds reason to doubt. And Sean finds Stephanie attractive (“Move in with me.”)


The context is Sean and Emily want to continue their lavish lifestyle, but they're unable to get out from under their big, spendy house. They want to continue their profligate spending; their budget is settled law. The insurance company is conducting its own investigation to confirm they've got the right corpse. The result could impact said life­style. The company is not the police, but they will turn over their findings to the police. The truth is up for grabs.

Mark Twain said there are three kinds of liars: “Liars, damn liars, and statisticians.” Let's take these three characters one at a time. Stephanie is conducting her own investigation of her friend's disappearance and from the back seat moderating the other confirmation investigation. We'll call her the wisen­heimer (“Nancy Drew knows too much.”) As for sharing her own back­ground she does have a wild side she tries to hide. She tells her story, the camera displaying it with her telling. Then her narrative stops but the history camera keeps running. She's more or less truthful, just doesn't want to tell the whole truth when it's not in her best interest. She's a garden variety liar, this wisenheimer.

Next is Emily, aka Claudette, aka Hope. She has roots in Michigan, state of Detroit the Motor City, where she went to Squaw Lake Bible Camp as a kid. Doesn't want her picture taken, but she'll share her past. Only the camera showing the flash­back along with her narrative shows an entirely different story than what she's telling. She makes it up out of whole cloth. Her husband calls her a pathological liar. Mark Twain would call her a damn liar. Eventually we stop believing anything she says. The spousal abuse she displays was self-inflicted.

That leaves us with Sean the husband. He published only one book, Darkness at Dawn, and it's pure boiler­plate, i.e., “It was a dark and stormy night.” He teaches at Goodell College, not the most prestigious. He's a British national in America. He leads a plodding existence. He's a drudge. It's a given that statistically it's most often the spouse at fault when some­thing happens to the other partner. His alibi is that he was in London caring for his mother with a broken hip. The camera shows him really to have been in London caring for his mother Margaret (Lila Yee.) He loves his mother. It's problematic for him that he didn't marry some­one more like her. Yet he is faithful to his wife up to a point. Since she is sexually available to him, he doesn't seek satisfaction else­where. How­ever, she uses sex to manipulate him big time, and now she's disappeared.

Borrowing from the Apocrypha I find a verse applicable to each in The Wisdom of the Son of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus.) For Stephanie, from the man's point of view, it's (Sirach 9:9) “Sit not at all with another man's wife, nor sit down with her in thine arms, and spend not thy money with her at the wine; lest thine heart incline unto her, and so through thy desire thou fall into destruction.” Stephanie who doesn't run around never­the­less spends altogether too much time alone with a man whom she's not married to.

For Emily, sub her own sex, and there's a warning about her in, (Sirach 9:13) “Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill; so shalt thou not doubt the fear of death: and if thou come unto him, make no fault, lest he take away thy life presently: remember that thou goest in the midst of snares, and that thou walkest upon the battle­ments of the city.” This Michigan slicker is a danger; her knickers are snares and she's a disaster in the making. Cross her and your life is forfeit.

For Sean the drudge, it's (Sirach 9:14) “As near as thou canst, guess at thy neighbour, and consult with the wise.” Sean is more or less what Stephanie guesses him to be when she vouches for her best friend's husband. He likely will be exonerated according to the advice and consent of the wise.

Production Values

This mystery, “” (2018) was directed by Paul Feig. Its screen­play was written by Jessica Sharzer, based on the novel A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell. It stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Henry Golding. Kendrick is great as Stephanie. Lively's performance rocks. Golding delivers a compelling performance playing Lively's husband Sean. Supporting cast deliver some great performances as well.

MPAA rated it R for sexual content and language through­out, some graphic nude images, drug use and violence. The language was pretty raw. There were excellent lead-in visuals and song. The pacing was right on the money. The surprises were never used up. Stephanie was consistently shot at a camera angle to make her look at least a head shorter than the rest of the adults in the room. Visually she's the little guy.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This was a good chick flick: one successful working mom and one successful mom volunteer, one hand­some hubby taking up space, assorted influences from their past, a police presence looking for a crime, and two cute kids who want a play date. Creative plot management keeps it interesting, and the vlog following just keeps on growing. The one car chase involves a pedestrian, but he's got a shot­gun in his hands. Always some­thing exciting.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Special effects: Well done special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.