A Simple Favor (film)

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A Simple Favor
A Simple Favor.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Feig
Produced by
  • Paul Feig
  • Jessie Henderson
Screenplay by Jessica Sharzer
Based on A Simple Favor
by Darcey Bell
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography John Schwartzman
Edited by Brent White
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date
  • September 14, 2018 (2018-09-14)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[2]
Box office $42.6 million[3]

A Simple Favor is a 2018 American mystery thriller film[4] directed by Paul Feig from a screenplay by Jessica Sharzer, based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell. The film stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, and Andrew Rannells, and follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

A Simple Favor was released in the United States on September 14, 2018, by Lionsgate. The film received generally favorable reviews from critics, with praise for the plot twists and performances of Kendrick and Lively, and has grossed over $42 million worldwide.


The film begins with Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), a single mother who runs a housewife-themed Vlog, explaining the disappearance of her close friend Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) which happened five days before. The film then cuts to a flashback. Emily is a PR director whose son Nicky attends the same elementary school as Stephanie's son, Miles. On several occasions, Emily invites Stephanie to her upscale home for drinks, where the latter meets Emily's husband Sean (Henry Golding), who is an English professor. One day, the two women trade confessions, and Stephanie admits that, after her father died when she was a teenager, she got into a sexual relationship with her half-brother. After Stephanie married, her husband suspected the relationship and argued with the half-brother during a car-ride. The car crashed and both of them died. Emily, meanwhile, bemoans the lack of success of her husband's writing career, and their poor financial situation caused by profligate spending. One day, Emily asks Stephanie to do the simple favor of retrieving Nicky from school. However, Emily then vanishes. The police discover that Emily rented a white car prior to cutting off contact.

A fan of Stephanie's Vlog reports seeing Emily in Michigan. There, her car is discovered near a lake, and her drowned body found under the surface. On the day of the funeral, Sean and Stephanie, both depressed, begin a relationship, and Stephanie moves into Sean's house. This greatly upsets Emily, who is apparently alive and in hiding, so she responds by sending Stephanie an insulting message and sneaking into the house to rearrange the closet. Stephanie begins her own investigation of Emily's past, speaking to Diana Hyland, an artist who formerly painted Emily. Diana explains that Emily used the name Claudia during their relationship, and had accepted a large amount of financial assistance from Diana only to suddenly disappear. Diana gives Stephanie an old t-shirt from a summer camp which Emily had attended. Going to the camp, Stephanie discovers an old yearbook showing that Emily has a twin sister. She then meets with Emily's mother, who explains that at sixteen years old, the twins had set fire to the house, killing their father, and had run away. At this point, Stephanie requests a meeting with Emily through her Vlog. Emily explains to her that, after running away from home, her sister became a drug-addict and the two lost contact. Emily, meanwhile, worked hard, occasionally resorting to dishonesty, and built a career for herself. Sixteen years later, her sister reappeared and asked to meet in Michigan, whereupon Emily requested Stephanie to retrieve her son, and headed to Michigan in the white car. Upon meeting, the sister blackmailed her for money, whereby Emily murdered her. Emily used the opportunity to disappear, knowing that her husband and son could receive four million dollars in life-insurance money.

Owing to Stephanie's discovery of Emily being a twin, the insurance-company refuses to pay out. Emily is angered by Sean's love for Stephanie. Stephanie, likewise, is angered by Sean's affection for his female teaching-assistant, as well as his eagerness to rejoin Emily, upon discovering that she is still alive. Thus, Stephanie agrees to help Emily reappear to the public and frame Sean for physical abuse and insurance fraud, allowing Emily to walk away with custody of her son. Sean is arrested, indicted, and released on bail. Stephanie, however, has a change of heart, and stages a fake argument with Sean in front of Emily, while microphones are recording in the background, in order to implicate the latter. Emily predicts their ruse and cuts the microphones ahead of time. Emily then confesses to the crimes, and, holding the pair at gunpoint, tells them of her intention to kill both of them and make it look like a murder-suicide. She shoots Sean in the shoulder and turns the gun on Stephanie, at which point Stephanie reveals that she has a hidden camera live-streaming the entire conversation to her Vlog. Emily runs into the street, where she is hit by a car, and shortly afterwards, arrested. The film concludes with text explaining that Emily was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sean was cleared of all charges and became a successful professor at a major university. Stephanie's Vlog expanded to millions of viewers, and her success in handling Emily's case led her to become a part-time private detective.




In January 2016, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had bought the film rights to author Darcey Bell's novel A Simple Favor prior to the book's publication. The story had been pitched as being similar to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Creative Artists Agency represented the movie rights in the deal with Fox.[5]


In June 2017, it was announced that A Simple Favor would be extricated from 20th Century Fox and instead be distributed by Lionsgate. It was also announced that the film would be directed by Paul Feig with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively announced as being "in talks" for the lead roles.[6] On July 26, 2017, Kendrick and Lively were confirmed for the lead roles while Henry Golding joined the cast as the husband of Lively's character.[7] Linda Cardellini was later announced as having been cast in an undisclosed role in September 2017.[8] Andrew Rannells, Jean Smart, and Rupert Friend were revealed to have been cast in the film later.[9]


A Simple Favor commenced principal production on August 14, 2017, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[7]


The film was released on September 14, 2018.[10]


On May 1, 2018, Blake Lively deleted all pictures from her Instagram account in order to promote the film.[11] The first teaser trailer was released on May 2, 2018,[12] followed by the second teaser trailer, which was released on May 24.[13]


Box office[edit]

As of September 23, 2018, A Simple Favor has grossed $32.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $10 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $42.6 million, against a production budget of $20 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, A Simple Favor was released alongside White Boy Rick, Unbroken: Path to Redemption and The Predator, and was projected to gross $12–15 million from 3,102 theaters in its opening weekend.[14] It made $5.9 million on its first day (including $900,000 from Thursday night previews) and $16.1 million over the weekend, finishing third behind The Predator and The Nun.[2] It dropped just 35% in its second weekend to $10.4 million, finishing second behind newcomer The House With A Clock In Its Walls.[15]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 83% based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Twisty, twisted, and above all simply fun, A Simple Favor casts a stylish mommy noir spell strengthened by potent performances from Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 76% positive score.[2]


  1. ^ "A Simple Favor (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 23, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 16, 2018). "Why 'The Predator' Is Shorter Than 'Predators' At $24M & 'White Boy Rick' So Pale At $8M+ – Sunday Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 16, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b "A Simple Favor (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 23, 2018. 
  4. ^ http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/simple-favour-2018
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (January 29, 2016). "Fox Developing Murder Mystery 'A Simple Favor' as Movie (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. 
  6. ^ Busch, Anita (June 19, 2017). "Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively in Talks To Star In 'A Simple Favor' For Paul Feig – Update". Deadline. 
  7. ^ a b McNary, Dave (July 26, 2017). "'Crazy Rich Asians' Star Henry Golding Joins Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick's 'Simple Favor'". Variety. 
  8. ^ Paul Feig [@paulfeig] (September 15, 2017). "So excited to be back w/ Linda Cardellini on the set of #ASimpleFavor - our 1st time working together since Freaks & Geeks 17 years ago!" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  9. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (May 2, 2018). "'A Simple Favor' Trailer: Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively Get Wrapped up in a Mystery". Collider. Retrieved May 18, 2018. 
  10. ^ McClintock, Pamela (February 26, 2018). "Lionsgate's 'Robin Hood' Relocates to Thanksgiving". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 18, 2018. 
  11. ^ Opelka, Brenna (May 1, 2018). "Blake Lively weirdly deleted all her Instagram photos and is now exclusively following people named Emily Nelson". Business Insider. Retrieved September 12, 2018. 
  12. ^ Scott, Ryan (May 2, 2018). "A Simple Favor Trailer Pulls Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively Into a Mystery". MovieWeb. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  13. ^ Pendersen, Erik (May 24, 2018). "'A Simple Favor' Teaser: Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively In Thriller From Paul Feig". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  14. ^ Rubin, Rebeeca (September 11, 2018). "Box Office: 'The Predator' to Feast on 'A Simple Favor', 'White Boy Rick'". Variety Magazine. Penske Media. Retrieved September 11, 2018. 
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 23, 2018). "'The House With A Clock In Its Walls' Sounding Near $27M Alarm; Counterprogramming Still In Deep Sleep". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 23, 2018. 
  16. ^ "A Simple Favor (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 15, 2018. 
  17. ^ "A Simple Favor reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 15, 2018. 

External links[edit]