On the surface, there seems to be very little funny about A Simple Favor, the film that brings together Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. Certainly not the plot, which centers around Stephanie (Anna), a mommy blogger who is determined to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake) sudden disappearance from their small town after being asked to pick her son up from school. From there, the story includes betrayals and reversals, a dead body, and the question soon to be asked by pretty much everyone: who is duping whom?
But then, when you hear that the film is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters: Answer the Call), it at least provides an explanation of why there’s plenty of dark humor here as well. “Thrillers are my favorite thing to watch, because as an audience you’re engaged, you’re being pulled along, you’re being surprised, and you’re having the rug pulled out from under you occasionally,” Paul explains in a studio-provided inerview. “That experience, being in the audience and watching those things, is something I really wanted to play with. But this is a real tonal tightrope to walk, because we’ve all seen thrillers and we’ve all seen comedies using drama, but when you try to take all those elements and mix them together, you really have to be careful with it. Hitchcock was the master of it, because in his movies you’re laughing half the time and then you’re terrified half the time. And what I liked about this, is it’s one of these kind of thriller stories, but it’s taking place in the suburbs.”
Screenwriter Jessica Sharzer, who adapted the novel by Darcey Bell, in discussing her leading ladies, comments, “I love the character of Stephanie, because she’s such a geek in certain ways. She tries to hard and she’s very sort of invisible in some ways, or mocked by the other moms at school and she knows it. In response, she has reached out into the universe through her blog to all of these moms around the country, and they have become her surrogate friends. So she’s a very lonely character, and also someone who’s really haunted by her past. That has informed her entire persona to be the perfect mom, becaus she’s making up for some sins of the past.”
“I’m fascinated by Emily,” she continues, “because she’s very enigmatic. She’s incredibly beautiful, which was important in the book and in the casting, but she’s a certain kind of beauty. I mean, there are different ways to be beautifl and I think she is a beauty that’s sort of scary to men and to women. It’s partly because she’s hard to pin down. She keeps a lot of things close to the vest, and her facade of being glamorous and fashionable and slick and smooth really hides her past. So, interestingly, she and Stephanie both have dark pasts, but they choose to hide them in different ways. One by baking healthy cookies and having this mommy blog, and the other by working in a slick fashion PR job, which is all about surfaces and all about mystique, so it’s a perfect world for her to inhabit.”
To get a taste of where things go from there, check out what Blake and Anna have to say in the following interview sections — scroll down to see!