Suburban noir has become a big draw for book and film lovers alike. Ever since Amy Dunne declared “I’m so much happier now that I’m dead,” few have tried and failed to recreate Gone Girl’s genius. Comedy god Paul Feig’s newest film is irresistible, but misses some steps on its way up to Gone Girl-level brilliance.
A Simple Favor follows the dark relationship between mom opposites Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively). Stephanie, the single mommy vlogger, is quickly seduced by Emily’s rich lifestyle – in all her martini drinking, ’30s Marlene Dietrich glamour. When Emily disappears, Stephanie attempts to get to the bottom of what happened to her best friend – and whether Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) had anything to do with it.
The title of Susanna Fogel’s second feature may be a play on James Bond, but unlike The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), the women of the story aren’t simply playthings – they’re at the forefront. The Spy Who Dumped Me is next on the growing list of female spy movies, and while it’s a fun summer popcorn movie, it doesn’t transcend the genre’s typical conventions.
The film follows best friends Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) in the aftermath of discovering that Audrey’s ex, Drew (Justin Theroux), is a spy for the CIA. They soon find themselves sucked into an international espionage adventure that takes them from their quiet lives in Los Angeles to running for their lives around Europe. At its core, the film is about the strength of women and female friendships, but the buddy comedy fails to find the right balance of action to complement the film’s light-hearted vibe.