May 22, 2024

"A Simple Favor": Plot-twist heavy film noir with lesbians and a swishy queen. Keep a collection of penis photos handy

Link to the NSFW review

I innocently turn on Netflix to see what's new, and suddenly a young woman is dancing maniacally, tossing her hair in all directions like she wants to get whiplash, as she tosses stuff into a suitcase.  I've never seen any dance like that except in Haitian drum ceremonies where you are possessed by an orisha, and on tv commercials, where the lady has found eternal happiness by changing her brand of dishwashing liquid. She continues to dance maniacally as she unloads the moving van, dances up the stairs and into the bedroom.  Then she stops and stares at the 170 pairs of shoes in the wardrobe.  She looks horrified.  Did she accidentally move into someone else's house, or is someone living in her house?  But I've got to see what's going on.

The movie is A Simple Favor, about a simple favor the spins out of control.

Scene 1: Stephanie, in one of those absurdly elegant kitchens that passes for "lower middle class" in movies, is starting a vlog on how to make zucchini chocolate chip cookies. Ugh. She stops to tell viewers how worried she is that her best friend Emily is missing.  Emily asked Stephanie to pick up her son from school, but never came home. Any chance that the son is a high school football jock played by a 30-year old fitness model?

Scene 2
: Flashback to what happened: International Cuisine Day in Stephanie's son's first grade class.  Darn it!  There are 12 kids playing instead of eating the cuisine, while Stephanie volunteers for everything, and two moms and a gay dad played by Andrew Rannells make snarky comments about the absent Emily. 

The sons of Stephanie and Emily have become friends, and want a play date. "We'll have to wait and ask your mother"

A car approaches, and absurdly elegant high-heeled shoes get out and walk toward the drop-off.  It's Emily, wearing a man's business suit, channelling a stuck-up version of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.

The boys make their request, but she says no, she already has a play date with "a symphony of anti-depressants." Hey getting high instead of minding your kid is child abuse!  Besides, "I let you tear my labia as you exited my womb, so we're even."  I don't know what a labia is, and I'm pretty sure that I don't want to know.

But she gives in, and asks Stephanie to come along as a play-date chaperone.  There's a chocolate martini in it for her.  

Scene 3: Emily's absurdly elegant house.  There's a painting in the living room: a close-up of her vagina.  The camera zooms in on it for five minutes and shows it intermittently for the rest of the scene.  I can see why lesbians like this movie so much.  If it was a giant painting of a penis, I'd be dancing maniacally.  Emily tells us that she modeled for painters in college, but this "perv" got obsessed with her, so she dumped him and took the painting.  It's not worth anything, though.

Emily hates her house -- a "f*king money pit,"  the town -- "a f*king shit-hole", and her husband, who wrote a bestseller ten years ago and nothing since. He's completely impotent, on the page and in the bedroom.  

Well, Stephanie can top that. Her husband died in a car accident, with her brother in the car, so...too much information for the first date, girl!  You'll scare her away!  

Her husband had life insurance, but she's still struggling, and it will run out in 2020.  Wait, I thought this was a new movie -- nope, Netflix lied, like in those old rerun ads: "if you haven't seen it, it's new to you!"  It's from 2017.

They discuss each other's rings, tattoos, and general sexiness.  OMG, next they'll be evaluating vaginal sprays.  I need to see a penis, pronto! 

Ok, that's better, but I'm still not up to experienced, jadeded bisexual socialite seducing the innocent sweet young thing.  I'm fast-forwarding to a guy.

It's the Hubby, Sean, played by Henry Golding.  They kiss passionately, insult each other, kiss passionately, insult each other, and so on.  He definitely is not a dud in the sack. He and Emily just get aroused by complaining.  

Stephanie tries to break them up by praising his book, especially the Thackery reference, but Sean can talk and kiss at the same time:  "I'm...kiss... impressed  ...kiss.  Not many people...kiss.. get the Thackery reference.

She explains that she was an English major at Barnard.  She did her thesis on The Canterbury Tales.

He quotes from "The Knight's Tale" while kissing Emily every third word, then heads upstairs for a shower.

Scene 4: The mothers and kids at the park.  Emily is wearing a man's suit again, promoting the butch lesbian stereotype.  But Stephanie is ultra-girly.  She pretends to be a vampire or something to chase her kid around, but she's too soft and fragile.  Her dead husband, a macho man, "was much better at the roughousing stuff."  Ugh, gender polarization!  And I'm getting tired of this.   Fast forwarding again.

More after the break

Scene 5
:  I stopped here because another guy comes on stage.  But first the ladies discuss the worst thing they've ever done.  Emily: her husband, a college professor, brought one of his teaching assistants over for dinner and a three way. Hey, that's unethical. The power differential...

"And your husband wasn't threatened by him?" Stephanie asks

"Who said it was a him?"  Stephanie is shocked to hear about the existence of girl-on-girl action, but then she grins, delighted by Emily's  wickedness.  I guess she's not really being seduced, she's into it.

A long time ago, I read an article in the gay magazine In Touch on  "How to Pick Up a Straight Guy."  You tell him that you had a three-way with a guy and a girl.  If he doesn't attack or run away screaming, you're in.

Stephanie's dark secret: Her dad died when she was a senior in high school, and this guy showed up at the funeral who looked just like him 30 years ago, so of course she was immediately turned on.  It was her half-brother Chris (Dustin Milligan, top photo and left, probably).  They hooked up. Whoa, we've entered "Flowers in the Attic" territory.  I'm sort of shocked that brother-sister incest is being presented as the equivalent of a bisexual three-way.

Scene 6:  Stephanie is in the kitchen when Emily calls. "I need you to...I'm just stressed from work...could you pick up my son from school? husband's in England and...I'm swamped with work..." Anybody could tell that she's got a gun pointed at her head.   

Stephanie goes to the school, where gay dad Andrew Rannells thinks that she took a job as Emily's nanny.  "No, we're friends."  He's shocked, but whispers to the moms that Stephanie is working for free, har har.  

Scene 7
: Two cops, including Zach Smadu, left, are interviewing Stephanie and Sean about Emily's disappearance: "Most times, when a woman vanishes, she has a reason."  Sean roils at the implication that she left after a fight.  Stephanie objects: those two kiss after every word they say.  "They have more chemistry than a science fair."

Scene 8: Stephanie interviews Emily's boss, famous designer Dennis, a swishy heterosexual sort.  She went to Miami; he doesn't know why.  She gets paid to do what she wants.

Not satisfied, Stephanie sneaks into Emily's office and finds a photograph hidden under her desk, captioned: "Gotta have faith."  A message for her?

Scene 9
: Hubby Sean and Stephanie passing out "missing person" fliers, while the moms and gay dad make snarky comments. 

Back at the house, Stephanie has made dinner.  Detective Summerville stops by and compliments Sean on her cuteness.  Wait -- why is that a compliment for Sean? He had nothing to do with it.  More intel: Emily didn't go to Miami, but she paid for a car rental in cash. 

Scene 10: Stephanie enlists her millions of vlog subscribers to look for the missing Emily. Sounds more interesting than cooking tips.  One of them sees the rental car in Michigan, so they enlist the local police, and find it in a lake, along with Emily's body.

Cut to the funeral, not in the rain for once.  Gay Dad is there, but not with a husband. Is he actually gay, or is it all swishy innuendo?  I'm not happy about including a gay stereotype as comic relief, and then refusing to out him.  But at least the lesbian seduction occurs in a flashback, and lesbian viewers are rapturous about it.

I'm out of space, but there are a lot more plot twists, including Emily's return, plus a twin sister, insurance scams, murder...the list goes on. 

: Sean and the dead half-brother take their shirts off while kissing ladies.

Lesbian characters: Remember the "perv" artist who painted Emily's vagina and then became obsessed with her?  Who said it was a guy?

The Maniacal Dancing:  I think it occurs when the bereaved Sean falls in love with Stephanie, and asks her to take over Emily's life.  She's so ecstatic that she dances like an idiot all the way into the house.  I'm not sure why she's horrified by the shoes.

My Grade:  I can't grade a movie when I've only seen 30 minutes before fast-forwarding, but the reviews call it "a stylish mommy noir."  Just don't be looking for a lot of out-gay content.

: When you search for nude photos of Dustin Milligan, you get this scene from Oz: the guys stole Luke Perry's towel while he was in the shower.  

A lot of dicks on RG Beefcake and Boyfriends.  Believe me, you will need them.

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