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Through the wonder of streaming platforms like Youtube, anyone can create their own content. And in the world of video blogs, there are few communities quite as powerful as the mommy bloggers. Communicating and collaborating on parenting via the web, parenting vlogs make up a powerful corner of Youtube. And while you wouldn't associate that community with criminal cases and possible murder, that's exactly what Paul Feig did with A Simple Favor. Based off the novel of the same name, the film follows a mommy vlogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), whose best friend goes missing under mysterious circumstances. The film's narration is set up through Stephanie's vlogs, and I recently spoke with Kendrick about her research process, which including a strange dive into the popular video blog genre.
I talked with Paul about what kind of vlog we wanted it to be. And I was looking at all these mommy vlogs. And the ones I really liked were no lighting, no makeup, it was always in a different place in their house. Because 'Hey I'm just packing my kid lunch, and I have to get the dog fed. So I'm just gonna do a quick vlog while I'm doing this.' Kind of haphazard. And then there were the ones where everything was really perfect, and really alien. And all the background was painted white, with little pink hearts and stuff. There's something weirdly sinister about it that I found really interesting. And Paul had this idea of me turning to Camera 2 to address the moms. And I was like 'Who has a Camera 2? Does she think she's on a late night talk show?' That made me laugh so much. It was so cringey and so good. So a perfect capsule of what Stephanie's problem is. She thinks she can control everything.
While Anna Kendrick's Youtube spiral may have included the occasional creepy vlog, it seems the process ultimately helped inform her character in A Simple Favor. A thoroughly awkward and flawed single mother, the source of her turmoil comes from pretending to be perfect. It's only when Blake Lively's Emily forces her to get real that Stephanie really blossoms... and then gets involved in a missing persons case.
Rather than following Emily's disappearance on TV interviews and news alerts a la Gone Girl, updates in A Simple Favor are given to the audience exclusively through Stephanie's vlog. And as the twist and turns continue to pile up, so does her viewership. Stephanie's awkwardness is on display on camera in all its glory, as is her fatal flaw.
You can check out my conversation with Anna Kendrick about mommy vlogs below.
Stephanie's vlog is just one of the many comedic beats in A Simple Favor. Despite the movie's underlying mystery and extremely high stakes, the project has plenty of Paul Feig's signature humor. And with someone as quirky and layered as Anna Kendrick playing the character, there is a ton of buzz currently surrounding the upcoming dramedy thriller.
A Simple Favor will arrive in theaters on September 14, 2018. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.