Dir: Paul Feig.¬†Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Eric Johnson, Jean Smart, Sarah Baker.¬†15 cert, 117 mins
Paul Feig continues his noble pursuit in A Simple Favour of fronting his films with Hollywood‚Äôs best female comics ‚Äď previously Melissa McCarthy four times, in Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy and Ghostbusters, but also Kristen Wiig in two of those, and Sandra Bullock, hardly a slouch herself in the being funny department.
Offbeat, mid-budgeted and quite unlike any of the above, Feig‚Äôs comic thriller pairs Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, in a twisty story of sudden disappearance, Nancy Drew-ish sleuthing and plots hatched with ice-cold martinis at a raffish tilt. The double-crossing gets a wee bit congested in the late going, but the star turns power it through.
What‚Äôs refreshing up front is the spiky, uneasy circling ‚Äď more that than bona fide friendship ‚Äď between Stephanie (Kendrick) and Emily (Lively), who have sons at the same small-town school, but could otherwise hardly be more dissimilar. The former is a tragic try-hard ‚Äď widowed, with a cookery vlog, and the target of daily mockery from fellow parents, for her habit of overdoing motherhood in every way possible.
Emily, on the other hand, is devastatingly aloof, needs a drink in her grip as soon as she gets home, and has an attitude to parenting which mainly consists of fleeing it: days after meeting Stephanie, she‚Äôs leaning on this needy supermom for pick-ups and play dates, before vanishing outright.