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‘A Simple Favor’ tackles dark comedy in suburban setting

Marley Parish, Editor-in-Chief

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Hell hath no fury like a woman trapped in suburbia.

Directed by Paul Feig, “A Simple Favor,” tells the story of Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) and Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) — two mothers of elementary schoolers, living in the suburbs outside of New York City.

“A Simple Favor” consists of the perfect cast to achieve its dark comedy status — the peppy Kendrick and authoritative Lively. While this film’s plot resembles that of David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” the movie is sure to have you laughing in your seat and wondering what is going to happen next.

Nelson and Smothers seem to develop an unlikely friendship, but as the plot unfolds, the film’s many twists and turns are revealed. Secrets are kept, lies are told, and no cleaning trick from a mom vlog could clean this mess up.

“A Simple Favor” begins with Smothers’s vlog. Before teaching her subscribers how to bake zucchini cookies, Smothers explains how her “best friend” Nelson has been missing for five days after she asked Smothers for a “simple favor” — to pick her son, Nicky, up from school — only to disappear without a trace.

A PR director in the city, Nelson is unlike any other parent in the film. Not only does Nelson wear regal, pinstripe pant suits, cooking is not her strong suit; she never volunteers as a classroom parent, and she works a full-time job in the infamous, mythical “city.”

Lively’s striking features and tousled, blonde locks are enough to set her apart from the pastel-wearing, mini van-driving soccer moms. While Kendrick’s character plays “Zombie Mom” with her son, Miles, Lively’s idea of letting Nicky have fun is “tearing her labia while he came out of the womb.”

A single mom, Smothers loves baking, volunteering and spending time with Miles. When Nelson and Smothers’s sons want to have a playdate after school, Nelson invites Smothers to her home for a drink — a strong, dry, gin martini. Taken aback by Nelson’s home — a rigid house, decorated by nude art and a kitchen every housewife dreams of having — Smothers is unsure how to relate to Nelson’s vulgar humor, independent nature and hands-off parenting style.

As the two spend more and more time together, they begin sharing secrets and personal stories about their lives. Nelson casually admits to having a threesome with her husband and his teaching assistant. A drunk Smothers dramatically reveals she developed an intimate relationship with her half-brother when she was a teenager and maintained the relationship into adulthood until her husband and brother were killed in a car accident.

After Smothers receives a tip from one of her vlog viewers, Nelson’s body is discovered in a lake in Michigan. At the funeral, Smothers is accused of trying to take over the role of Nicky Nelson’s mom, and she has sex with Nelson’s husband.

Clearly Smothers is a true pal to make sure her supposedly dead best friend’s husband is mourning properly and then moves in with the father and son — what a friend.

After cleaning out Nelson’s closet to replace her designer evening gowns with collared dresses and cat-print sweaters, Smothers comes home to find all of Nelson’s clothes back in their rightful place. Smothers receives a phone call from Nelson, who is revealed to be alive and a twin, telling her that she has been watching her.

The scene had the potential for thrill, but Kendrick’s playful jokes paired with Lively’s snarky comments about incest result in a banter that is impossible to take seriously.

Although Kendrick portrays the quirky, helicopter parent perfectly, the apron-wearing soccer mom is not to be underestimated.

Using her vlog to uncover secrets and taunt the dramatic Nelson into coming back home, Smothers organizes a family reunion that nobody saw coming, a party any housewife would be proud of.

Nelson struts downstairs in her home, wearing a floral swing dress — the brightest colors she wears in the film. Lively looks like she stepped out of the 1950s, ironic for the actress who starred as the woman who never aged in “The Age of Adelaide.”

Nelson, Smothers and Nelson’s husband argue, leaving Smothers in the middle as she is forced to choose between her best friend and her lover. Surprisingly, the dainty mother pulls out a gun and shoots Sean Nelson in the chest, leaving him unconscious on the floor.

If it were not for the fake-looking blood and Kendrick’s over dramatic reaction, I would have believed Sean Nelson was actually dead, but Lively’s character is no fool.

Nelson quickly takes control over the scene as she pulls out a gun of her own, deciding who she should kill and what the story should be.

Claiming that she loves her son, Nelson says she only faked her death because she wanted to save the family from its overwhelming debt and then blames Smothers for messing up her $400-million life insurance policy.

After quickly shooting her husband in the shoulder, Nelson aims at Smothers next, only to be taken by surprise after Smothers reveals a button-sized nanny camera on her blouse.

In a turn of events, Smothers and Nelson fight to the almost death — Nelson runs out of the house in an attempt to flee the police; however, she is stopped by a Prius driven by one of the elementary school dads. Yes, a Prius, stopped the diabolical, selfish mommy.

“A Simple Favor” is a fresh take on “Gone Girl.” It is filled with snark, humor and two strong women who are too smart for their own good.

This movie is worth the watch. Trade in your popcorn for a strong, dry, gin martini and get ready to discover the secrets lurking within the suburbs. Between the crafts, baked goods and sweater sets, who knew soccer moms had so many secrets to hide?

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‘A Simple Favor’ tackles dark comedy in suburban setting