A Simple Favor 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Oopsies

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively form an unusual, desperate friendship in A Simple Favor. In personality, they represent oil and water; when together, they bond. It’s an unusual relationship, set in a non-specific American suburb where gentle vlogger and school mom Kendrick raises her young son alone. Lively’s character has a son too, but she’s rarely around, working PR for a fashion firm.

Their togetherness leads to a devious plot where innocence is ripped from Kendrick and the sultry, demented Lively can plot out a wicked scheme. It’s clever, ingeniously dressed as a rich versus poor saga, one where truth stays hidden. The public never sees the real people behind their doors.

Paul Feig directs A Simple Favor, miles from his rotten Ghostbusters reboot too. A Simple Favor’s sultry, uniquely daylight, Hitchcock-like noir balances a delicate layer of dark comedy where he (and his cast) stay comfortable. It’s a film careful not to break or color outside its own established lines. Drawing on Kendrick’s natural perkiness, A Simple Favor builds a layer of awkward niceties, only to tear at them, removing the veil of secrecy suburban culture demands.

In terms of empowerment, Feig’s effort is among the oddest of this era

Much is asked of the two leads. Lively’s turn as a villain, who uses her fashion sense extraordinaire to get anything she wants, breaks social standards. She’s an enigma when approaching a grade school, otherwise filled with average middle class parents. Instantly seductive and clearly manipulative, her brash behavior is instantly magnetic to the hidden imperfections of those around her. She’s who they wish they were. It’s an alluring performance, used to its fullest.

What evolves is a murder mystery. Sort of, anyway. In a bit of careful crafting, it only impacts a triangle of characters; suburbia keeps away, aside from the growing clan of moms tuning into Kendrick’s vlogs. They treat her kitchen performances as their own escape from home drudgery, a keen satirizing of the stay-at-home routine.

In a distinct and twisted way, A Simple Favor lures in trapped women. Do something different, it says. Not murder – that’s just for this movie’s comedic purposes – but be adventurous. A Simple Favor is in total understanding of what it’s riffing, begging women to break from preordained roles. In terms of empowerment, Feig’s effort is among the oddest of this era. An anomaly, brisk and sensationally clever, while opportunistically bowling over expectations of who these women are (and want to be). Watching it happen is a morbid delight.

Video (4K UHD)

With the rare aspect of ratio of 2.00:1, A Simple Favor has an instantly unique look. That’s accentuated by a beautiful movie, shot with hearty light always pouring onto the frame. Depth and dimension maintain a spectacular high point for the entire runtime, helped with a mild Dolby Vision pass. A Simple Favor emboldens light, backing the scenes with occasional rich highlights.

A delicate color pass helps, keeping flesh tones flawless and primaries neutral. With all of the white walls of Lively’s house, every hue stands out. Kendrick’s colorful soccer mom style is always good to show off the color balance.

Listed as a 2K source, that doesn’t seem right given the level of sharpness and texture. Scenes at a park surrounded by trees resolve every leaf. An exterior of a church pulls out blades of grass. In close, textural qualities of skin and hair stay consistent. Cinematography is kind to this material on UHD, rarely utilizing soft focus of any kind.

A thin layer of noise/artificial grain takes clarity away from only a handful of scenes. Two of them at night represent the worst. The rebound from those moments is quick, leaving every image pure. Lionsgate’s encode does fine work.

Video (Blu-ray)

A bit off in terms of color, flesh tones turn to a mildly off-base hue. Think more peach than tan. Everything else fares well in terms of saturation. Pure primaries make up the scenery.

Pleasing contrast keeps things perky, with adequate black levels assisting when needed. A few bouts of noise impede on clarity, but the encode is up for a challenge. Overall sharpness and texture dazzle.

Audio

TrueHD 7.1 is the codec choice, offering only a handful of sonically significant moments. Rain falls organically into the soundstage. When music plays in the house, surrounds add ambiance cleanly. There is one action scene in which Kendrick’s car rolls through a red light. A spinning car does little to utilize the available speakers.

The rest is typical of high dollar studio fare with firm, well mixed dialog. A gentle score poses no challenge.

Extras

If you can’t get enough Paul Feig, this is the disc you need. All extras appear on the UHD and Blu-ray, including a pointless bonus feature introduction with Feig, all 17 seconds of it. Three (!) commentaries feature Feig in each, joining his actors in one, his filmmaking crew on the other.

Eight featurettes follow, the longest running 20-minutes that looks at the story and characters. The rest deal with costumes, the set, Feig’s wardrobe, a deleted ending, filming the finale, and cast. Some deleted scenes and an uncensored gag reel come in last. While not spectacular, A Simple Plan makes for a lot to digest.

A Simple Favor
  • Video (4K UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively satirize suburban America in the wickedly funny A Simple Favor, a dark and morbid tale with a wink.

Overall
4.3
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 36 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: