A Simple Favor

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
A Simple Favor Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Sex, language, violence in comedic noir for adults.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 25 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

You could say that "crime doesn't pay" could apply and that hard work and courage do pay off, but it's not a message film, and there's plenty of iffy stuff too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Stephanie is smart, loyal, determined. She overcomes fear and low expectations to become her best self.


(Possible spoiler alert!) A decomposed body is shown. The results of a woman being hit in the face with a wrench are shown, though the moment of impact is not. A brutal drowning is depicted. Someone is murdered in a fire, someone else is shot, and a character is hit by a car.


Several sexual situations are shown or described, including an incestuous relationship, public sex, and a threesome (described only). A graphic nude painting of one of the characters is frequently displayed and serves as a plot point.


Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "damn," "crap," "snatch," "Christ" (as an exclamation), and others. Sexual descriptions.


Several brands are shown as being part of the finer life -- cars, blenders, etc. -- but mostly, there are frequent blatant plugs for Aviation Gin, which happens to be owned by star Blake Lively's husband, Ryan Reynolds. It doesn't play as an in-joke, but in-your-face product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Extensive day drinking by both main characters, including drunkenness. The male lead also drinks, and heroin use is a plot point, even being shown on-screen once.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Simple Favor is an adult-targeted suburban noir comedy about a single mom (Anna Kendrick) who takes it upon herself to solve the disappearance of her aloof, fashion-plate best friend (Blake Lively). Expect lots of strong language, including  swear words ("f--k," "s--t," and more) and graphic descriptions of sexual situations such as incest, affairs, and threesomes. Viewers will see multiple sexual situations; there's no "live" nudity, but an explicit portrait of one of the characters is shown frequently. Expect several violent incidents (murders, a shooting, a car accident, vehicular assault) and images of their aftermath. Characters also do a lot of day drinking, sometimes to excess, and heroin use is a plot point. Directed by Paul Feig of Bridesmaids fame, the film (based on the novel by Darcey Bell) also stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) and Andrew Rannells.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySIBC04 September 12, 2018

Fun movie, but not for younger ones

Let me start by saying this was a great movie for adults, very suspenseful/thrilling and also a lot of humor. Good plot and wonderful cast. My daughters wante... Continue reading
Parent of a 18+-year-old Written bylizzart25 September 16, 2018
Teen, 14 years old Written bymax_11_small September 21, 2018

Great thriller

this movie should be for ages 14 and up because there is frequent coarse language mainly around Emily (Blake Lively) and there are 3 sex scenes witch include se... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byawesomr January 23, 2021

Comedy? Thriller? Romance?

This movie was so funny! I loved it so much and I've watched it 5 times! There are some scary parts and some sexual parts and a lot of swearing and violenc... Continue reading

What's the story?

In A SIMPLE FAVOR, Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a suburban single mom with lots of energy for crafts, school projects, and her vlog. She unexpectedly makes friends with fellow mom Emily (Blake Lively), an aloof fashion-plate with a handsome husband (Henry Golding), a great house, and a seemingly perfect life. When Emily goes missing, Stephanie sets out to solve the mystery -- quickly discovering she didn't know her friend as well as she thought.

Is it any good?

Director Paul Feig, screenwriter Jessica Sharzer, and company have hit on a new genre -- the Cute Noir -- and they've done it with style, humor, and a spicy sprinkling of nerve. Under Feig's snappy direction, A Simple Favor deftly mixes noir standards -- the missing person, the femme fatale, game-changing secrets, illicit romance, the double-cross -- with the comic timing and panache of Feig's Bridesmaids and Spy, while staying based in a relatable suburban reality. Sharzer's script, adapted from Darcey Bell's novel, offers pithy observations on the mom-life ecosystem and plenty of snappy dialogue. Lively seems to have found her niche as the femme fatale, drolly dropping such casually inappropriate lines as "Mommy already has a play date with a symphony of antidepressants." When her young son says she doesn't let him have any fun, she shoots back, "I let you tear my labia as you exited my body." Lively and Kendrick have excellent chemistry as the movie's odd couple.

It's really Kendrick's movie, though, and she delivers in spade-shaped cupcakes. Her performance is multifaceted, decorated with ornate detail and wonderfully honed takes. Underneath Stephanie's comic awkwardness is a surprisingly formidable person with a significant carnal drive. The actress can stop on a dime, flashing from ultra-competent Martha Stewart disciple to stumbling, learning-on-the-job Sherlock Better Homes and Gardens. Several supporting players also distinguish themselves, including Hamilton's Andrew Rannells as a bitchy member of the mom coterie and Bashir Salahuddin as a jolly cop. The ground is laid for a sequel, and if it could be as sharp and funny as A Simple Favor, it would be welcome. This movie is twisty, nasty, snake-pit-y fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how suburban moms are typically portrayed in the media. Does A Simple Favor support or subvert that tendency? How does it ring true, and how does it depart from expectations?

  • Sex has a strong presence in the film. What might the movie have been like without sex as a major motivator for several characters? What did you think about the movie's depiction of the characters' sexualities?

  • What role does violence play in the movie? How would you describe its impact?

  • Is drinking glamorized in the movie? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Is Stephanie a role model? Why or why not? What does she learn over the course of the movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrillers and comedy

Themes & Topics

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