A Simple Favour has entertaining moments, but suffers from a seeming unwillingness to commit to a tone. The film alternates between trying to be menacing and goof, frequently in the same scene. When it goes for a joke, it often undercuts its own serious side, dispelling tension when it should be trying to build it. I laughed at the jokes, and enjoyed some of the darker scenes (particularly early scenes between Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively) but found it difficult to fully engage with the film because of it’s constantly shifting mood. Another problem is the movie is a bit cluttered with extra characters and sub-plots that seem to come and go, never properly set up or resolved. The movie is adapted from a novel, and it seems that a few things were only partially transferred, and should have just been trimmed out altogether.
As it moves in to the third act, the film comes completely off the rails, becoming a series of plot twists that occur without adequate explanation or consequence, eventually becoming silly and preposterous. I couldn’t take it seriously because it refused to take itself seriously. A Simple Favour could have been a really entertaining film if it had just picked a way to go. It could have been a fun dark comedy, or a decently scary psychological drama, but it can’t be both at the same times, so it ends up being neither. It’s too bad because Kendrick and Lively had really great chemistry, and both turned in good performances. At the end of the day I enjoyed some of the parts, but not the whole.