‘A Simple Favor?’ Better watch what you ask for

The characters in “A Simple Favor” are likable and intriguing. That’s one reason this film works.

Anna Kendrick is Stephanie Smothers, a mommy blogger who befriends fellow mother Emily Nelson Smothers (Blake Lively) and gets wrapped up in a whodunit of sorts. The intrigue almost occurs at the beginning when the favor of picking up Nelson’s son from day care turns into a giant spectacle.

“A Simple Favor” comes from director Paul Feig, who handled directing chores in the 2015 reboot of “Ghostbusters” as well as “Spy” with Melissa McCarthy. All of that is in the past, since what he has created here contains one of the better plot twists of recent memory.

Anna Kendrick, left, photographs Blake Lively in “A Simple Favor.”

Anna Kendrick, left, photographs Blake Lively in “A Simple Favor.”

The most recent thing I can compare “A Simple Favor” to is writer-director Shane Black’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005) in which some good old mystery is concocted with some murder and death. Lead Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer shared some great on-screen rapport.

Forget recent entries like filmmaker David Fincher’s 2014’s “Gone Girl” or anything Brian De Palma has tackled recently because Feig, working from a novel by Darcy Bell and writer Jessica Shazer, does a great job of making “A Simple Favor” as all get out.

What is also amusing is the politics of signing up for volunteer activities at the school. Stephanie sometimes gets into trouble for too much volunteering. The other parents at the school look at her with glances of “what now?”

As the spouse, Henry Golding of “Crazy Rich Asians” is intriguing as Sean Townsend, a teacher who gets mixed up in the lies orchestrated by his wife Emily and Stephanie. He looks and appears baffled by the shenanigans that are thrown into his lap.

“A Simple Favor” takes more left turns than a twisted pretzel. The viewer almost gets settled in when Feig chooses another direction and takes viewers down another road.

The storyline threads and tales are in abundance here, always veering from one change and shift in story angle to another. The one thing Emily does not like is having her picture taken in any capacity. When Stephanie snaps a picture, Emily tells her to delete it. She complies, not questioning her, but does it for the sake of their friendship.

“A Simple Favor” leaves viewers with a satisfied palate and smiles galore.