Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A Simple Favor

I'm starting to wonder if the Icon cinema in the Seaport is doing all right. I figured I'd treat myself to a movie on one of the best-looking screens in the Boston area for my birthday, and though I joke about how I've never seen the place busy, I wasn't really prepared to open up my phone to pre-order my tickets and see that I could get one at their Atmos-equipped Icon-X screen for five bucks (technically $7.50 for folks who haven't registered with their rewards program, but it's free and you don't have to carry a card around, so basically five bucks). I'd pre-ordered the bacon popcorn, but the ads on the screen implied that you can have a free regular corn on Tuesdays.

Sure, every theater has to put some effort in to get a crowd on Tuesdays; Apple and AMC both do $5 specials then too (although you're not getting into the Dolby or Imax screens at that price). But, still, this place originally pushed itself as kind of fancy, but it's put more of these specials on the weekly schedule, and they also decided that maybe it's okay for kids to come to a 7pm show after all. It sure looks like a place that is trying to attract more customers, but like I said when I first reviewed it, the place is kind of in-between in a lot of ways, way too focused on the attached bar to the point where the basic concession stand suffers, and I feel like it may just be too far off the beaten path to attract the audience it needs. And if the ArcLight opens by the end of the year and feels fancier, I'm not sure what the Icon's niche is.

It's kind of funny - as happy as I often am to be thrifty, and would have been delighted at the five-dollar ticket most days, I kind of wanted to splurge last night, and maybe should have gone for the SuperLux for that.

A Simple Favor

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 2 October 2018 in Showplace Icon at the Seaport #6 (first-run, Icon-X DCP)

It's not so much that A Simple Favor goes from generic to nuts in the blink of an eye that I don't like, but the fact that it takes so damn long to actually do so. The set-up takes forever, and then when things start to get weird, it's such a hard turn that there's no room for the characters to even hint at being anything other than maniacs. It never gets to feel exhilaratingly untethered.

That's especially true at the start, when the relentlessly dedicated single mom Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) meets Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), the mother of her son's new best friend. Married to Sean Townsend (Henry Golding), who wrote one well-regarded book ten years ago, Emily doesn't suffer fools, and is generally salty where Stephanie is sweet, and has a house and lifestyle that is getting harder to support even with her job working for a fashion designer in the city. One day she asks Stephanie to pick up her son after school, as Sean is overseas looking after his mother, and doesn't come home. It soon becomes clear that, neither Stephanie nor Sean really knows much about the missing woman.

That's a pretty standard start to a thriller, the sort of material that filmmakers try to just find a way through, and you can see director Paul Feig and screenwriter Jessica Sharzer doing that with a minor opening flash-forward, some jokes, and a jarring but more-or-less unimportant revelation. It's not quite filler, but when it's not bland, it's self-mocking, which doesn't exactly give the audience a lot to hold on to when things start to go off the rails.

Full review at EFC.

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