Paul Feig is one of my favorite comedy directors. Give the guy a look on IMDb, and you'll see Bridesmaids, Spy, and The Heat, among others. He's one of the few big names out there to be making comedies with women and about women, and making lots of money doing it. With A Simple Favor, Feig has reached outside his comfort zone, going the way of De Palma or Hitchcock, crafting a suspense story of suburbia gone wrong. Well, maybe not completely outside his comfort zone, which is the problem: A Simple Favor grafts goofy characters and broad comedy on top of the serious goings-on, and it doesn't work.
Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively do what they can , but the film undermines this story of the dark underbelly of suburbia. This film plays like a messy mishmash of Gone Girl and Bad Moms, and it's neither funny enough nor suspenseful enough to be any good. Characters' personalities change seemingly just to further the plot, and actions are taken that make no sense and, in fact, undercut any plans the characters have made.
Where the script suffers, the look of A Simple Favor does not. This film could be a fashion show, with Lively and Kendrick sporting costumes straight from the golden age of Hollywood. The whole picture has a sharp, glossy look, which matches the story perfectly, and Feig could really have made something special if he had stuck to the drama and done away with the laughs.
Maybe next time.