Welcome to Dan Glaser’s Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. In each episode I go with a different comedian to see a movie and then we head to the closest coffee shop to chat about it over the internet. Yes it is a podcast, you just have to read it instead of listen to it. As always, you can catch up on all the other episodes here. Even better, consider supporting the podcast by subscribing!
This is a very special episode today, as you will soon see. I went to go see A Simple Favor at Regal Union Square, by myself in New York City. Meanwhile, at the same time, on the other side of this crazy melting pot we call America, Malin sat down in a dark room at the Pacific Theatres Glendale 18, to do the same. There was a 3 hour time difference but that didn't stop us from doing our sworn duty. After the film, I walked to Brooklyn Roasting Company on 23rd St and 6th Ave, and Malin went to The Philz on Brand Blvd in Glendale. Once there, we opened our laptops and began to chat. I ordered a cortado and Malin got a Mint Mojito Iced Coffee. (LOS ANGELES MUCH?)
Dan: Hi Malin! Thank you so much for joining me today on Dan Glaser's Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. Today is a very special day here on the pod, because we are debuting a new feature: BI-COASTAL coffee shop chats. Before we get started, I guess I only have two questions:
1) Is Los Angeles really how they say?
2) Are you an Emily, or a Stephanie?
Malin: Thank you for having me!
1) Exactly how they say! Everyone's movie stars, including me.
2) I am a Stephanie in that sometimes I put on dresses and later cannot get them off my body without scissors.
Dan: And in case you are wondering, I am a Nicky, Miles rising in that I just say and do stuff to move the plot (this podcast) along but I don't actually ever affect other people.
Malin: Also you're always sneaking out to the backyard to sort of lightly punch others.
Dan: What can I say, I learned it from my Hot Dad.
Malin: Such a Hot Dad!! I like Henry Golding except his accent--isn't that interesting of me?
Dan: That's actually...brave. His accent is actually very good, is my point. That's like saying “I like Blake Lively in this movie except for her outfits.”
Malin: Even the graveyard outfit? Gaping vest plus necklace wrapped around an untied bowtie (I think??)?? Listeners (or do you call them readers?), I wish you could see.
Dan: I call them Danheads. Danheads, picture this:
Malin: Danheads, open up [your eyes]:
Dan: A tall blonde woman in a pinstripe zoot suit, open past her navel, twirling a skull topped cane and sipping martinis next to her own grave.
Malin: The cane! I forgot the cane!
Dan: And here's the kicker: SHE'S TWINZ.
Malin: Have you seen The Prestige? I wanted to save that for later, but this is my first Podcast You Have To Read, and I couldn't help myself.
Dan: The Prestige? Oh you mean a Simple Favor, Boys Edition? I would caution Danheads about spoilers, but we are gathered here today to talk about A Simple Favor, a comedy mystery with no mystery and just enough comedy to disqualify it from a Drama Golden Globe. A film so nice the characters foreshadow everything twice.
Malin: Did you come up with that in the forty minutes since your screening ended? Because that is very good.
Dan: I actually thought about it on the walk over here. I originally thought that they literally SAY everything twice (they do), but I decided in realtime as I typed that foreshadow is more accurate. Many characters repeat the same line, often.
Malin: I couldn't believe my ears when we got the SECOND "A Simple Favor" delivery.
Dan: Exactly 2. Comedy Mystery rule of 2s. Other comedy mystery rules of 2 that happen twice from this movie:
"I came back from the dead!"
"Take a xanax, maybe 2"
"She is like a ghost"
"Meet me in the bathroom in 20 seconds. knock twice"
Malin: I might go so far as to say that being a twin is the ultimate comedy mystery rule of 2. The first “A Simple Favor” was too soon, too cheesy. Very clear initiation, though. First line, right outta the gate: we know we're dealing with a simple favor here.
Dan: Hahaha. That's a good point. Should we start at the beginning? Let's talk about what happens in this movie.
Malin: Yes, let's! First, Anna Kendrick is a mommy vlogger. She rudely only addresses moms in her greeting.
Dan: This movie does the thing which I am literally confused about why it still happens in movies, where a streaming video buffers and gets all artifact-y like a 1996 RealVideo stream. That is not what happens when you are watching a video. It hasn't been the case for over a decade. I actually stood up and left the theater in the first 10 seconds after that so I don't know what else happens for sure, just guessing.
Malin: Did they do that twice or even more? Bizarre choice. Where else but the internet would one be seeing this? Why show that?
Dan: The vlog as framing device is fine. It's fucked out in this, the year 2018, but whatever. They do this so the story can be modern and we can check back in on her vlog's evolution as the story goes on. It sort of pays off, in that it is shoehorned in and then is used to solve all problems.
Malin: Sure, it's fine. I think it should've been Instagram stories. Okay, so Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) is a mommy vlogger, and she is giving her viewers (but only the moms) an update on her friend Emily (Blake Lively), who has gone MISSING.
Dan: Anna should have been a microinfluencer. Yes, we start in media res, ostensibly hooking us from the word go. My concern right away was this:
Oh no, this is gonna be mostly anna and way less blake. Blake is good and fun in this movie!
Malin: Anna is fine here but definitely not ever fun in this movie! I 100% agree. Blake shines in this. Anna does an acceptable job. She has a lot of the comedy in the movie, and I wish she didn't.
Dan: Sure. I actually think there are some significant structural issues with this movie, and by extension, her character, that are not her fault. The movie does a good job of showing her whole deal. Mommy blogger, nerd mom, PTA overachiever, etc.
Malin: Textbook. She apologizes too much!
Dan: You get it right away, these broad strokes. Fine, I'd rather this than waste any time showing us the same shit for 15 minutes. So, we know her "friend" Emily is missing, and we flash back a week to see how it all began…
Malin: At school, on a day when every parent is in attendance.
Dan: You know, like at school.
Malin: (except Emily)
Dan: Also the Gay Guy's daughter in that class is like...3 years old? That was confusing to me.
Malin: I think that was a younger sibling. OR a child he hired so he could say snarky things to someone, anyone all day long.
Dan: Yes there are 3 Parents in this Greek Chorus who pop up throughout the film to comment and Aparna is the only good one.
Malin: Yes, Aparna is very good as always, and I don't know if the third, non-Andrew Rannells one got to say anything besides murmurs of agreement
But also I think the age/maturity of all of the children was weird in this movie. I guess because, as you said, they were needed to move things along. But truly they get in fights and say things more like much older kids.
Dan: It makes sense if they are all extremely...autistic? (Not a doctor)
Malin: Well I wish they'd have told me twice if that were the case. Also how do all the snarky parents know about Emily but Stephanie doesn't? Did they move there recently and I missed it?
Dan: Nope. No reason.
But there's no time to think about that because this is the scene where, for NO REASON, Anna / Stephanie's son Miles who is playing with Blake / Emily's son Nicky says "I came back from the dead" after his action figure gets killed.
So if you had ANY inkling in the first 5 minutes that this was NOT a movie about Blake Lively faking her own death, well don’t you feel (a) goofy (movie).
Malin: Dan...I do. I thought... that was just a smart kid... trying to win…
Dan: That's okay there are many more times in the next 60 minutes where the movie will get in the way of its own ostensible suspense.
Malin: Okay well soon Emily invites Stephanie over because their kids want a playdate!
Dan: Yes, you are right! Emily shows up at school which she NEVER DOES, and they decide to have a playdate.
This is where the movie gets fun and interesting because Blake Lively is on the screen. Anna Kendrick more like Blake UNLIVELY. Also I know this is the LITERAL POINT of having the two on screen next to each other: the characters are natural opposites. Emily is enticing and interesting in a way Stephanie can never be. I get it! I still don't wanna have to watch it when it's just Anna!
Malin: Yes! And they drink! In Blake's very cool house, which Anna ogles.
Dan: It's...pretty cool. Not amazing.
Malin: Cool for Connecticut! A whole hour and a half outside the city.
Dan: Yeah that's a good point! Plus Emily doesn't love it, which also makes sense. It's Cool For Connecticut.
But there is a giant painting of Blake naked, focused on her vagina. They pass it as Stephanie says “beaver”, which is exactly right. For this movie.
Malin: Oh yes, I hated that. Anna is describing the socks they have at Target with different animals and gets to beaver right as she sees the painting.
Dan: She could have just said Pussy. Is why you hate it right?
Malin: That's exactly why I hate it. But yes, wow, a Target lady, and a Rich lady! Although we find out... not so rich. (Is that this visit?)
Dan: Yeah pretty much. Let's talk about this scene. There are a few scenes like this. Emily pouring drinks, Stephanie wanting to seem cool. These scenes also serve to fill in a backstory for each of these women.
Malin: And they have all run together in my mind. I am sure it is not this first visit that we get the BFer reveal, but it might as well be. (Or was it?)
Dan: The BF is not until a second date. But we can talk about it now if you want. It literally means nothing to this movie or any character in it.
In these mom date scenes we get to know them as they get to know each other. This is also where we can mention the biggest issue I have with this movie. Unless I really missed something big, Stephanie, our hero, never grows / learns / or changes. Her history and past are slowly revealed over the film, but they serve no purpose; narrative or otherwise. She Gets Things Done, but to what end? Is she any different than when the movie started? What is her personal journey?
Is she COOL now? More confident? Were those issues before? Not really, and not really. She has...more youtube followers?
Malin: I think they'd like us to think that she has unlearned being apologetic and small.
Dan: That is the promise that they set up in the first act, but none of the action really supports that! I am not saying you are wrong, I am saying the movie is.
Malin: No, I agree. Just guessing what they think they conveyed. We see her apply the lesson Blake taught her when she stands up to Blake's boss (thank you, flashback) but otherwise not so much.
Dan: Yeah, we will get to Stephanie's past (the mysterious BFer) as we move through this movie, but the initial playdate tells us a few things:
1) Stephanie is widowed. Her husband and Brother died in a slow motion flashback of a car crash.
2) Emily is COOL and works in THE CITY.
3) Emily's husband is HOT and AN AUTHOR and they FUCK.
Did I miss anything from this first mommy date?
Malin: I actually think the BFer detail does matter to the story!
Dan: Oooh, how so? The BFer detail is that she had sex with her half brother and hid it and her child is likely actually his. Brother Fucker is what Emily calls Stephanie as a term of endearment.
Malin: I think it is not entirely clear (until later) that Anna didn't have them both killed somehow. It seemed to me like she was potentially eliminating all the people in her life who knew that she was a BFer. Like, oops I revealed this to Blake--better end her, like I did my husband and half brother himsel!
Malin: Or I guess I should clarify--I think this is what they were going for. Motive or something!!
Dan: Literally never felt any of that energy. All ever got from Anna was: I am a wet noodle. I felt no tension from that thread other than expectations that it would pay off somehow.
Like, you know, maybe with the relationship with her SON that this movie spent a lot of time on but never went anywhere. Like who is is dad realllllly?
Malin: But I think if you have a secret that you truly don't want people to know, you don't give it up after two drinks to a woman you've known for a month.
Dan: I...don't have many secrets.....................but I sort of bought that. She wanted desperately to seem cool to Blake. That is also why I never got any actual criminal vibes from her. No way would she reveal that if she had like a hand in a set up murder.
Malin: But after Blake's secret was a threesome?? And then Anna’s like, "Hey, when I was in the throes of grief, I did some incest"
Dan: What is cooler than fucking a relative in secret? Hell yeah. Trump card.
Malin: Well, when I thought she was being a mastermind, I thought she was doing the ol' "reveal a secret and make em trust you" trick.
Malin: Anyway--I was wrong! But then I did also think she might have murdered Blake to get with Henry Golding, and I DO think they wanted me to think that.
Dan: I could imagine giving this movie way more credit as you sit there watching: “There is no way it will be this obvious and walk these well trodden paths so precisely. There has to be another layer! Anna Kendrick must have more layers and plots behind this obvious nonsense!”
I never got that far, and in fact, if that WERE the case, I would have been annoyed at myself for not thinking that way. I'm now VERY EVEN MORE interested to hear what you thought about all the stuff in this movie now! I am guessing we had very different experiences!
Malin: I am a gullible viewer for sure, and I also don't see a lot of movies like this. But, they set up that
1) Anna was a big fan of his (Henry Golding’s) novel
2) (already I thought she had had her ex killed somehow)
3) She had sexual deviant energy after the BFer reveal.
Dan: Yes, for the Danheads, Emily's husband Henry Golding was a novelist whose book Stephanie liked.
Malin: And the vlogging stuff with her being so "open and honest" with her viewers--I thought that was the GONE GIRL esque diary, where she's painting herself as this sympathetic friend.
Dan: Imagine if.
Malin: I perhaps mistook her being-bad-on-vlog-camera for having-murdered-her-friend. And what a boon for her--it boosted her fanbase to have created this hubbub around her!
Dan: I can't stress enough, how big a deal this movie makes about Stephanie's brother fucking drama and how little it has to do with anything. I don't blame you for assuming there was more to it.
Malin: I don't think I totally invented this stuff, but all this is to say, it is not at all what happened. I might have an inherent distrust of Anna Kendrick. She was just a little too quick to have sex with Henry Golding and a little too dancey as she moved her things into Emily's closet. Or trying to! ( re closet.) Let's revisit.
Dan: I am shockingly very poorly versed in her oeuvre. Like, I don't know what she usually does in movies, but I never got any sense of ulterior motives or cunning. To repeat: I didnt even think she did a bad job! It all read to me as nerd ass corny mom, ready to try and let loose.
Malin: Anna Kendrick once said in a branded content youtube video that she wasn't hot-hot, she was just "hottest girl in your improv class" hot, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life.
Dan: God I love branded content. More like braindead content 😎
Malin: I have never seen her play conniving in a movie before--this is all personal and on behalf of all hot girls in improv classes.
Dan: I actually hated being the hottest person on improv teams and I'm sure you feel the same way. People don't respect us for our improv and assume we are just there to sell tickets.
But yes. We can skip ahead a little bit: At some point--now that they are friends--Blake asks Anna to pick up her gremlin kid from school and watch him for a bit.
Malin: Yes, the titular Simple Favor. Henry happens to be in the UK because his mom has broken her hip, and they show us with his mom, so we know his alibi isn't a lie.
Dan: Yep, but here's the weird part....Blake isn't answering Anna’s calls. And a whole day goes by...Is Anna stuck with this kid? What's going on?! Better go talk to Blake's Boss!
Question Malin: What the heck? Why is this Boss character in the movie? Why this whole office?
Malin: Yes, there is NO reason for any of this office stuff. Except for perpetuating anti-city bias.
Dan: I guess...it's the beginning of some version of a character arc for Anna? Taking action, finally ....standing up to...a random boss?
From a pure plot perspective, she finds a Xerox of a young(ish) strung out Blake, secreted away in her office. But movie, just have Anna find that in Blake’s room at home. Same diff. Why is there an office and all the scenes / characters therein?
My other issue is that Anna like, never had an issue before of not taking action. We never see her "not standing up to boss," so this eventual progression is meaningless.
Malin: Yeah, that is the only instance of growth, but we literally never saw that she needed to do that growth in the first place.
[at this point, the wifi in Malin’s coffee shop is so bad that she has to drive home - ed.]
Malin: Something to think about: what if my home internet is just as bad?
Dan: Wow that's a Feigco Entertainment level twist!
Regardless of why the scene exists, Stephanie now has a "clue" with which to proceed. A bad picture of Blake Lively that says "keep the Faith" because her real name is Faith and she is living with a fake identity. That last part is only obvious to the viewer, not any character in the movie for the next 45 minutes.
Or rather, her twin sister is named Faith. Or her name is Faith. I don’t remember.
Malin: I also cannot remember. I just made a huge mistake and read an article about what was different between the movie and the book this was based on, and I have fully confused myself. But it did clear up one thing (sort of)--in the book, the boss character leads the search for Emily, sort of.
Dan: Oh no. Well in the movie's defense, I literally did not think they could possibly involve a literal Evil Twin until Blake #2 shows up dead a few scenes from now. At which point I just kind of shrugged and thought, welp there's Twinz.
Malin: Welp, there's Twinz.
Dan: This movie has a lot of Bad Cops but not in the corrupt way, just in the bad at their jobs way.
Malin: Hmm you don't think the guy who said, "Cute nanny," was one of the good ones?
Dan: “Cute nanny” is a normal thing that a person would say when they enter a house. So spoiler, eventually Blake, who went missing, turns up dead in a lake. Her mole is on the wrong side of her face and she has tons of heroin tracks but what can you do there's only one Blake.
Malin: Because tattoo and ring.
Dan: Right also tattoo and ring.
Malin: Impossible to find those on a different body.
Dan: So, Blake dead. Anna...what? Sad? What happens next?
Malin: Sad but also springs into action to help! Because that's her deal. She's an appeaser, so she makes elaborate dinners for Henry and son. She is There for Them.
Dan: Oh sure yes. She wants to console. This is another area where we have big obvious parallels to her brother fucking. After her father's death, she mes her handsome half brother and in a time of grief, they fucked.
Same thing here plays out and Golding and she fuck. What is the point of this replay? Explain to me! I don’t get it! I mean I get why they fuck, as far as the main plot is concerned. But why mimic the flashback?
Malin: Well, besides comedy rule of 2s, I think we are to believe that Anna is secretly a sexual deviant who sleeps with men and then ruins their lives somehow.
Dan: Right over my head. I guess i just believe women, sorry. I sense no ulterior motives.
Malin: And me, I hate them.
Dan: Then this is the movie for you! Okay so now we have a few plot threads that begin to spin their nasty little webs all through this second act. Some cops come snooping around, suspicious of Henry Golding and Anna. Anna herself is on the hunt for more clues.
Malin: How soon after Emily's death does Henry Golding (Sean I guess) say "I love you" and ask Stephanie to move in?
Dan: Definitely after they fuck. Also after the funeral where the two kids fight for no reason.
Malin: Right, but it definitely felt like days, no?
Dan: Oh certainly. Week at most. The easiest way to tell the passage of time is through vlogs. Just like in real life.
Malin: That's how I do it. So in the midst of this, Anna/Steph goes to Emily's work, moves into the house--wait I almost forgot--and tries on a fancy dress of Emily's and can't get it off and must be interviewed by the cop who said "cute nanny" in a floor-length gown bc this dang thing won't come off!
Dan: Yeah...what was that about.
Malin: That was what they call a comedic set-piece.
Dan: Oh sure, the "Fucking The Apple Pie" if you will.
Malin: But also it shows us that Stephanie is obsessed with Emily and wanted her life.
Dan: Yeah the dress trying on made sense. The not getting the dress off...is that a real thing?
Malin: Oh, that! No.
Dan: I'm a guy's guy, Malin. I don’t "get it," but like, isn’t getting the dress ON usually the comedically difficult part of that equation?
Malin: YES! I lied before. I have never in my life not been able to get a dress off. It's getting them on that is hard. If you can get it on, you can get it off, I always say.
Dan: I guess that's a twist (like in an Aviator gin martini!). Aviator Gin: Blake's Favorite Gin®.
Malin: But we had to give the cop a reason to be suspicious of Stephanie besides everything else she was doing, so there you go.
Dan: I have a question. As someone suspicious of Stephanie throughout this movie (again, unlike me who trusts her implicitly, as I trust all moms), were you suspicious of Henry Golding as well at any point?
Malin: Hmm, a good question. I did not suspect him of doing the murdering himself because they showed him in the hospital, but I was suspicious of how quickly he and Anna got together and of everything going on with his TA at University. I did think for a moment--what if Anna and Henry knew each other all along and were conning Blake somehow? Maybe he "pretends" to forget her name when he first meets her, I thought.
Dan: Ya I was only suspicious generally when she asked Anna to move in. Never suspicious of any particular plot he was hatching. That went away pretty quickly however and I figured he was just a literal horny accent dude. Which he is and was and nothing more. There is nothing more to this movie or any character than meets the eye.
Malin: Lord knows I tried to find it.
Dan: Blake's entire backstory, which we might as well skip to, was also just kind of rambling and pointless! Actually no that's not fair there are a few other scenes worth mentioning before we skip that far.
Malin: The order of scenes is fading fast for me, but I did want to ask about the closet scene. Which is in here somewhere.
Dan: Yes closet scene is one. Before that though is the "Blake's Kid Says He Saw Blake" scenes.
Malin: Ah yes. I will never write anything with kids in it. They are bad actors because they are kids.
Dan: Now I really can't be sure of the intent here, but at least for this audience of one there was precisely ZERO question of whether Blake was alive or dead, at ANY point in this movie. Since that was the case there was also ZERO question of whether or not there was some sort of Secret Twin Blake Double Switcheroo happening. I really don’t think the movie wanted me to know that the whole time...
The spooky mystery soundtrack that kept playing during any sort of mystery Blake-focused scenes confirm this in my mind.
Malin: I don't think I jumped to twin yet, but I did question whether there was ghost shit happening (which seemed highly unlikely!) because of the closet scene.
Dan: Lol. I mean yes, literal ghost magic would explain that scene. And not much else could.
Malin: But yeah, no part of me thought the kid was wrong about seeing his mom.
Dan: So yeah, kid says he saw his mom. Dad says no he is just a little kid. Anna says yeah you're right but then why does he SMELL LIKE HER?! (This takes place over the course of a few scenes and 10s of minutes. It is not this mercifully quick)
Malin: I always smell like the people I see for a couple minutes. And Nicky has that disease too.
Dan: There is no vaccine for it that doesn't cause autism. Choose: autism or the disease. (This choose mechanic is another call back to a thing that happens 2x)
Malin: Very good. At some point the kid says "fuck you,” which gives us another Oopsy Jar joke because a movie like this needs runners.
Dan: Only once though which...feels like a missed opportunity?
Malin: I bet we'll see it in the deleted scenes on the DVD.
Dan: I want more vlogs too. Okay so the closet scene. This is the big Movin In With Henry scene. Anna takes down the giant beaver painting and marches right into the big walk-in closet.
She takes down all the big nice fancy dresses and shoes and sings and dances to french music. Now, i thought this was gonna be a nice little comedic set piece as they call it and we would then cut to her putting up a bunch of tacky Target clothes where the nice things were.
Malin: She removes all of Blake's stuff and seems thrilled to be doing so, even though she would definitely want to wear all of it (except the pants because Anna is short).
Dan: Yes that made no sense to me! Like, she literally tried on one of Blake’s tight black dresses in front of the cop. Wouldn’t she want more of this stuff? There is NO undercurrent of "Well Blake may be fancy and cool but I’m me and I gotta be me!"
Malin: And Blake is tiny but bigger than Anna so that dress being too small makes even less sense. Anna is an extremely tiny human.
Dan: Right. How could it be tight on her. Anyway in general, getting rid of all the stuff makes no sense but whatev. I really thought it was just a comedic setup for her filling the glamour closet with pussy socks and puff-ball dresses.
Malin: So she dances back in the room, and I feel about this the way I feel about characters talking to themselves--no one but poorly written characters do it.
Dan: Dancing by yourself to music?
Malin: I am a person who would dance alone if that was a thing people did.
Dan: My girlfriend literally does that. And guess what. I'm an ally. So once again I find myself on the other side of the aisle from you.
Malin: In what context?
Dan: Just whenev. To wake up. When watering plants. Whenev.
Malin: Like when she puts clothes in a closet, she dances?
Dan: Mmm it could literally happen. But it's in private so I can't really know if it has.
Malin: So she has self-reported this to you?
Dan: Sometimes she has headphones on, so I see it.
Malin: Sorry, I want to believe women…
Dan: I will call the cops next time and file a report.
Malin: I think your girlfriend learned this from bad TV and movies and I feel awful about it.
Dan: We learn most of our relationship dynamic from TV and movies. That's why I still know nothing about her family and don’t care even after we've been dating for 2 and a half years. It's also why I don’t care what side of her face her mole is on any given day.
Malin: Guess I need to write some TV and movies for you two. So you can see what REAL couples do.
Dan: If you don’t who will? Certainly not the jokers in THIS town.
Malin: (I have danced alone before but it was to get more steps for my fitbit.)
Dan: That counts I think.
Malin: Anyway, back to the film!!!
Dan: Right so the closet is empty. And Anna returns to fill it with discount clothes.
Malin: But--jump scare!--Blake's clothes are back!!! I thought Blake was going to be there.
Dan: Yes same. The big jump scare is that Blake found all the Blake clothes and set them back up and it comes with a big jump scare music cue.
Malin: And seemingly did it in minutes.
Dan: But no instead it is just ghost magic that moved in all the clothes again secretly.
Malin: Is this when Anna moves the frame on the beaver painting an inch and finds the painter's name?
Dan: Yea basically.
Malin: Blake had previously told Anna that the painter who did this portrait of her was a guy she thought was going to be famous. She took the painting and hoped to sell it one day, but he never became anybody. Also Blake is on record as hating having her picture taken.
Dan: Yes she hates having her picture taken, which is a point the movie hits often. From the second time they hang out actually.
This is the movie loudly saying "This woman is currently living a secret identity and may have actually faked her own death before already." This first time is a few scenes into the movie mind you, and like, yeah okay cool. You did this movie! You can't be mad when nothing that happens from then on out is a surprise.
Malin: The photo Anna had taken was of the back of her head
Dan: Can never be too careful. And also, teenage Blake, who we see later in a flashback, doesn’t even look like her. So she'd be fine anyway.
Malin: Not at all. New nose and everything.
Dan: Well anyway now that Anna knows the painter is one Diana Hyland (not the up and coming MALE artist she was told) she does the easy thing of taking an uber right to her studio.
Malin: Diana, of course, holds a knife for their entire conversation. Sorry, she also waves it in Anna's face.
Dan: If you had your name and address so freely available for anyone to find you would have a knife too. "Emily?" she says. No this lady I painted was named "Claudia"
Malin: "And the only thing she left behind was this t-shirt with a camp on it. I have kept it for a decade."
Dan: "Every one of these boxes in this studio has a t-shirt from a different women I loved." Turns out the lake in Michigan that Blake allegedly drowned in...is the same lake from the camp that the painter lady has a t-shirt of in the box where she keeps old t-shirts! Now THAT's a clue!
Malin: Now Anna goes to the camp. And the dumb nice people there let her access the records because it's how she can tell whether the camp is good or not.
Dan: She has unlimited Mommy Vlogging money. For T/E like this investigation. Also a life insurance policy that will run out in "2020".
Malin: I'm not clear on how life insurance policies work, and this movie didn't help me with that.
Dan: From what I can tell, a life insurance policy gives you lots of money when a spouse is killed in a suspicious way.
Malin: I gotta get one! On this self-financed trip, Anna finds an old yearbook with pictures of young Blake and a TWIN!
Dan: Yes this is the big twin reveal. There is also a home insurance subplot?
Malin: So sub I missed it. Oh wait. Arson.
Malin: How could I forget!
Dan: And momma Blake thinks Anna is an insurance agent. But we'll get to that. The big twin reveal is played like a literal reveal. Spooky music and all.
Malin: Pan down the yearbook page.
Dan: And..and....and twins!
Malin: And her name wasn't Emily OR Claudia! Thank you, caption!
Dan: Imagine if, near the end of the 2nd act in Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear says to Woody: "Wait a sec...the humans...don’t know that we can talk!!!" And everyone's eyes go wide. It's a twist that has impact if and only if you just walked into the theatre now.
Malin: And maybe not even then, because clearly there is some reason to be investigating this person. Anna calls everyone in the phone book with their last name--I guess asking about the twins each time--until she finds their mom with dementia.
Dan: Haha yes. Love the use of this subtle trope. Demented old people. Exploit this brain damaged old woman for clues and comedy.
Malin: How convenient that she says things she would have said in the past and to all the wrong people!!
Dan: So what, Anna pretends to be a maid and she learns that...what? The twins, Hope and Faith were bad girls?
Malin: That the woman is not all that far gone? She seemed remarkably lucid compared to the phone call.
Dan: It comes and goes Malin. PROD. Plot Relevant Onset Dementia.
Malin: I hope I get that kind (if I must).
Dan: It will at least mean you're relevant to some main character's plot!
Malin: I suppose she mentions the arson a bunch, but surely a Google search of the twin's names would have told us the same.
Dan: Why does the arson even matter? Sorry to keep asking the question "Why does xxx even matter?" But here we are.
Malin: Because it means she's murdered before I guess? Sorry to keep trying to answer--I hope it's not coming off as in defense of this movie.
Dan: Right but does Anna find out that people died in the house fire? And even if she does, why does it matter that Blake killed before? That is never used to like, implicate her in anything? By the time she is confronted by Anna she is already super publicly (to Anna et all) evil / crazy.
Blake's backstory is weird to me and doesn't seem to connect with what is going on in this movie. I feel the exact same way about the car crash / half brother bullshit. I think something must have been cut. I am being generous and nice to Mr Paul Feig. It seems too purposeful and takes up so much of the movie (both of these women's secret pasts) to just be like...info.
Malin: I'm sure the article mentioned the dad dying, and I think it is meant to suggest--uh oh, she's killed someone she's not supposed to kill before!
Dan: Ohhh I see. Well in that case sure, it helps us, the audience, understand that this evil lady is even as evil as we already think.
Malin: That said, it sounds like her dad was an abusive asshole (at least according to her--do we believe her? Oops a theme.) so his death seemed fair!
Dan: Seems fair to me! Well either way, uh, Blake starts calling Anna on the phone now? Things get all wonky once Blake shows up again. Which is a shame, because she is the best part of the movie.
Malin: Here's a thing that only happens in movies (and please don't tell me your girlfriend does this): phone rings, you answer and it's a telemarketer. You hang up. Phone rings again and before you hear anything you say, "Look, I told you to stop calling me," but it's actually someone else!!!!
Dan: Lol I wish. Yeah that sucked ass.
Malin: I like Mr. Feig and think he is better than stuff like that.
Dan: Well one thing that I DID like, was that Anna starts to use her Vlog to secretly communicate with / taunt Blake. She says things like "I have HOPE that my friend is at peace. We were like TWINS." Why does she do this? Shrug. But it's fun enough.
Malin: Yes, very fun device! And foreshadowing I guess of the end, which I didn't see coming. Probably not correct to call that foreshadowing. It's just more vlogging.
Dan: Always Be Vlogging. I think this movie is way more interesting when it is an exploration of this female friendship dynamic and way dumber when it is a life insurance non-mystery thriller.
Malin: Hm, I don't think I see these dynamics reflected even remotely in my female friendships. If it's an exploration of anything, I might posit that it's how people deal with death and trauma.
Dan: I mean the friendship between Aparna and the other mom.
Malin: Oh, that?? That was rich and earned and perfect
Dan: I think the core of this movie is: Dork wants to be friends with Cool. And by core I mean: stuff that felt close to something real.
Malin: I see that. I guess I run with all Cools so didn't connect.
Dan: When you're an Emily, everyone else looks like a Stephanie.
Malin: Okay, we gotta get to the life insurance stuff. I was legitimately confused about who was in on what for a spell there.
Dan: Okay let's talk life insurance.
Early in the movie, Stephanie tells Emily that the only way she is able to survive in her reasonably nice Connecticut home is due to a life insurance policy that her husband had. Since he died in a car crash, that policy paid out, presumably in a lump sum. She has it budgeted so that she can survive a few more years. It also might be an annuity. Doesn't matter.
Blake and Henry Golding decide to take out policies as well, presumably to take care of their bad son Nicky should anything happen.
Malin: They're house poor! Cheers to that x2!
Dan: Timelines are a bit unclear as to whether this plan is BEFORE or AFTER Blake's evil sister reaches out to her. My guess is after, but who knows. Anyway, in parallel, Blake's evil heroin sister reaches out to her, threatening to basically undo the last 15 years and reveal the truth (they burned a house).
Malin: Because, as she says explicitly, she has nothing to lose.
Dan: Blake hatches, or hatched the real plan: fake her own death by killing her sister, letting Henry collect a cool $4MM, and then split that with him under a new identity.
Malin: Which, yes she does?
Dan: It is heavily implied (and I believe it in the world of this movie) that Henry didn’t know about this.
Malin: Right. Which is insane! I think if you are trying to commit life insurance fraud, you need to tell your husband, "don't worry--I'm not really dead."
Dan: Maybe she thinks he can't pull off the con? But also Malin; she's crazy! Classic justification. I thought u did improv.
Malin: I'm gonna use that in my show tonight. Well then she doesn't get to be mad when he starts having sex with her friend.
Malin: Also, I think after he's publicly grieved, then she could swoop in and tell Henry what's up. She's showing up in her son's life and in Anna's but not his. She doesn't like him.
He wanted to return his mother's stolen ring, too. He will tell the cops because he is a NARC loser. Her plan is to wait until he gets the money then reveal herself so he can’t back out and fuck it up. This is one of the only things in this movie that I’m okay with.
Sorry but I have to defend her, a woman. Bravely.
Malin: Was she planning to start a new life with him and Nicky or just Nicky?
Dan: IDK Malin she's crazy! Jeez.
Malin: If she doesn't like him, then, again, she doesn't get to be mad when he starts sleeping with Anna.
Dan: Her mom is crazy too Malin, it's airtight.
Malin: He has already been cheating on her with the TA, who calls him handsome in the workplace. "Handsome".
Dan: Malin you do improv. That's no worse than an improv teacher sleeping with his student. Come on!
Malin: Sure, but you never call them "handsome" until you enter the room and make sure no one else is there.
Okay fair. But in her defense:
Malin: Do you think the threesome was real or not?
Dan: 3some was real IMO.
Malin: So he is a bad man liar! A real improv teacher if I ever saw one.
Dan: Right sure but also:
Malin: Go write a novel!!! Remember how mean she was in the scene where we meet him? Real abusive. But they kissed a lot, so it's okay.
Dan: That is what it's like with me and my Girlf. I haven't finished this pilot I've been working on since 2015.
Malin: Well maybe stop having sex in public bathrooms and take some gd time to write.
Dan: We hate each other. She steals from my mom. But god are we horny. That's modern romance.
So great. There is this whole life insurance thing. At some point, Blake shows up at her grave to meet with Anna. This is where she wears the big Beetlejuice suit and you can see the inside side of both of her breasts.
Malin: A wild choice!
Dan: It's magical realism.
Malin: She's on the run and wearing the most conspicuous outfit yet.
Dan: And we love her for it.
Malin: We're in Connecticut for Christ’s sake!! So Anna is very confident and high horsey here.
Dan: Yes for sure. This is the scene where we get to see what happened with Twin Sister Hope or Faith.
Malin: Oh yes. WE see the truth, but ANNA doesn't know that Blake killed her own sister.
Dan: So we find out that Blake's Twin Sister Hope or Faith (Blake is the other one, whatever name the sister isn't) is a strung out drug person who lives in a summer camp.
Malin: I think this was just a rendezvous bc it's where they used to escape from their abusive dad, but yes.
Dan: Ah sure, yes that seems correct. Blake goes to see her because she maybe cares a little but also because she had her secret threatened. We are told that other Blake was really the bad girl and our Blake was just kinda bad. Anyway, other Blake has on ugly makeup but don’t worry she still gets naked and is Blake.
Malin: Oh wait, I thought our Blake was the worse one! I should've listened to the names.
Dan: Nah other Blake was worse one maybe but also idk if it matters.
Malin: I also loved how everyone said, "Heroin?? Oh, no, not our Blake." About this woman that no one knew ANYTHING about. And yet that really was a clue.
Dan: Ya this movie is not afraid to point of the clues. So...Blake lies to Anna and says that Other Blake committed suicide in the lake. But we see what REALLY happened!
Blake drowns Other Blake in a scene that, again, this movie plays for dramatic effect. There is shocking music playing during this non-event where a character we know to be crazy and evil kills a character we just met and know nothing about. Like, who cares?!
And also: yeah duh, obviously this is what happened! We knew this 45 minutes ago!
Malin: Right! But how helpful to see the mechanics of the ring swap! How DID she do that, I thought, before I saw this helpful scene.
Dan: Truly all loose ends in this plot are tied up 3 or 4 times, before they are even loose.
Malin: And yet I would not call it a tightly plotted movie.
Dan: Well Anna doesn't believe this story. She maybe believes that Henry was in on it though? OR do you think she was just faking believing that? I think she believed it.
Malin: Oh god I don't know. This is where the movie annoyed me.
Dan: Blake tells Anna that Henry a) was in on the life insurance scam and b) never really loved her.
We have to tell people that earlier, Blake surprises Henry and pulls a gun on him. She gets him to say that he never loved Anna and records it. Okay cool.
Malin: Yeah I guess I don't know because after Anna and Blake frame Henry and it seems like he's going to prison, he's not in prison yet and then Henry and Anna work with the police to expose Blake. Anna is every which way. Liked it better when Game Night did it. (I barely remember--just wanted to make a reference.)
Dan: The entire third act of this movie is wackadoo. (Hollywood term)
Malin: I say that every day, as the city of Los Angeles requires.
Dan: Why don’t you try to explain the conclusion to this movie. You can mention the cops and or the insurance lady if you want but they don’t matter so up to you.
Malin: Oh boy. It has now been hours, but I will try. The insurance lady--I think based on this new knowledge of twin--says they need to keep investigating the claim and can't pay out yet.
Then (?) Blake and Anna enact their plan. Blake uses a wrench to give herself black eyes, and the two of them plant docs on Henry's computer to make it look like HE was trying to fake Blake's death so HE could get the payout.
Dan: So far, makes sort of sense. Blake is tricking Anna into framing a relatively innocent man. Wow, interesting, I thought to myself. This movie is gonna end with Blake getting away with it and Anna being duped.
Malin: (Correct me at any time) So he is going to be arrested but is not in custody yet when he shows up at his own home to find Blake in a full housewife getup.
Anna talks to her vlog fans in an interstitial vlog entry and asks them to forgive her for doing what she had to do, which to me sounded like a suicide note
Blake is taunting Henry sorta, and then Anna shows up at their house with a gun. She freaks out and acts like she's a jilted lover and is going to maybe shoot them both. She is mad at Henry on Blake's behalf too.
Dan: Go on.
Malin: Or pretending to be. So she shoots Henry, and then Blake is like, "Wait no, I'M the one who killed my sister--I did do it!"
Dan: Mmm yes, continue.
Malin: And then is like "okay wake up Henry, you're fine" and it turns out he's NOT dead. (So why on Earth did she say that, if she knew Anna and Henry were in on this?)
Dan: In her defense, why would anyone (watching or in this movie) think Henry was dead?
Malin: Well there was blood on his chest and she had fired a gun at him. Anna thinks "Aha! we got you!" because they were wearing wires. But then Blake says, nope! I cut the wires (when???), so you didn't get me!
Dan: Sure. Go on. (there is a lot more)
Malin: Then Anna reveals her vlog audience has been watching this whole time
Dan: Yes that's right, via a "nanny-cam" in her shirt. A device (plot and technology) that is never mentioned prior. The only time this movie decides to not set something up ahead of time, by mentioning even offhand that she is into mommy tech or something.
Malin: Blake is caught! She grabs the gun and runs outside, and then, MEAN GIRLS style (happy belated mean girls day!!) is hit by a car. Oh wait. Blake shot Henry for real before the nanny cam reveal. But not fatally!
Dan: Right yes, she shoots him in the shoulder and he says that classic thing we all say when we are shot, "you shot me!"
Malin: The driver of the car? Lil Rel!
Dan: Also there is a gag where Blake tells the cops to actually go to Gay Guy's house instead and there is a tense SWAT standoff. Which is not that funny in today's world unfortunately.
Malin: Oh right! I skipped that because I wanted to make my GET OUT reference. Somehow, and I have already forgotten, Andrew Rannells knows to drive to Blake/Henry's house
Dan: He knows because he is a vlog watcher.
Malin: Oh right!!
Dan: But also the SWAT team was just there holding guns to him?
Malin: Yeah, I guess he was like "I'll explain later, but right now, I gotta get outta here!" Do they show him watching the vlog when the SWAT guys show up?
Dan: They are all just sitting there watching the vlog and smoking weed. It's a comedic set piece.
Malin: Another! Anyway, the police get Blake. What else did I miss?
Dan: That's it. One more vlog?
Malin: Sure. She's very popular and solves crimes on the side now too.
Dan: Yes good. Lesson learned. Character arc complete. Return to the normal world having grown. She now has more followers. The end.
Malin: And we get another thing I hate in movies--long text post scripts letting you know how the characters wound up, as if this is a documentary. Just end the movie! Or show the rest if it's that important, which it never is.
Dan: Literally nothing with her and her son. Nothing about her brother. Nothing about her own happiness or life beyond like...she solves crimes now? Was that something she wanted ? Was she unfulfilled before?
Malin: Yeah, from the first scene, she was a proactive go-getter, and now she is also a proactive go-getter. She has never mentioned wanting a job, but she has one now. I suppose it solved her money woes.
Dan: Like, why not even just have her say to her mommies at the end: "Remember mommies, never apologize!"
Even that would give some kind of payoff to all the random shit that happens. Some sort of sign that she learned something over the past 90 minutes.
Malin: Agreed. If we look to your thematic proposal from earlier, one could say the message is: Hey Dorks, always befriend the Cools. It won't work out exactly how you think... but I promise it will! The Cool did make her Cooler in the end.
Dan: And that's beautiful.
Malin: Just like us Cools.
Dan: But to your point, yes there is a pre-credits scroll of text that explains the aftermath. And a scene of Blake Lively playing basketball in prison.
Malin: Lots of traveling I think.
Dan: It’s called a eurostep.
Malin: Do you hate this ending text as well, or am I grumpy?
Dan: I mean, the text epilogue is tonally off from what the movie is. Maybe not from what the movie THINKS it is. Which would be a fun comedy.
Malin: Right, I think that's the issue here. Increasingly, this is my issue with many of the things I watch.
Dan: That Animal House shit doesn’t land with me when you are leaning very hard into being an actual mystery. There are very long stretches of this movie with zero attempted comedy.
Malin: Not saying one shouldn't ever try, but it's hard to merge tones and have either one be successful.
Dan: Totally, and when you don't have the characterization to anchor things, it falls apart.
Malin: We go from cutesy beaver jokes and oopsy jars to incest and faking domestic violence
Dan: If you want to do mystery comedy, that's cool! It could be interesting. This movie is centered around Anna though, and to take advantage of the comedy rule of 2s, she isn’t really affected by anything that happens in her own movie.
So why should we be?
I think that's my biggest issue. Along with a non mysterious mystery. It would solve a lot, I think. Obviously either tie the brother fucker arc into her growth or cut it completely, but something needs to change with her path in this movie.
Malin: Yeah, not to be all improv-y, but we just need a clearer base reality for virtually all of these relationships, so when a twist happens we know how to feel about it or at least know that it is new information.
Dan: And more walk-ons!
Malin: What does it MEAN to be a brother fucker? Etc
Dan: I agree. It has no impact on anything!!! Other than it upsets Anna sort of sometimes. Like, the literal provenance of her son is up in the air and it is never relevant to ANYTHING!
Malin: I read that in the book Blake has a recording of her saying that and uses it to blackmail her.
Dan: Okay yah let's talk about the book.
Malin: Wish I'd read it!
Dan: I feel like that scene was cut. The brother shit has to have been in here to some degree beyond this final cut.
OH WAIT. LOL. The triplet.
Malin: What an inconsequential detail.
Dan: That they mention 2x. Imagine if in Toy Story, twice Buzz Lightyear says to Woody, "Hey Woody there's another toy that's a Caveman but he isn't here." It would have exactly as much impact on the movie.
Malin: Hahahahaha And then what if Buzz stayed the same forever, just with a big social media following.
Dan: But he sleeps with Woody's husband. And tries to fit into Woody's cowboy shirt but his boobs are flopping out.
Malin: There's a porn for everything.
Dan: I think that speaks to the democratization of content, a theme that this movie certainly touches on! Mommy vlogger Stephanie certainly couldn't have made all her dreams come true before the internet.
Malin: She might have had to get a job in an office or something terrible.
Dan: Or remarry.
Malin: Maybe there's another half-brother out there somewhere for her! But no, actually, I guess the P.S. tells us she manages to snag a city man.
Dan: Oh yeah, lol. Love when the postscript tidies up more non loose ends. Tight ends if you will.
"Stephanie's son Miles went on to join the hockey team."
Malin: Why would Sean (Author Hubby) have titled his novel THE OOPSY JAR? It's clear I am hung up on the oopsy jar.
Dan: He is a bad author remember.
Malin: If I am being generous I could think it is interesting that they didn't choose to have Stephanie and Sean end up together. They did team up to take down Emily in the end. He was certainly going to continue a relationship with his TA, but I am sure her City Guy has his equivalent philandering.
Dan: It was interesting that there were no repercussions or internal developments for any characters in this movie, other than Blake who is...in jail playing basketball. A bold choice. A simple favor, if you will.
Malin: As a title, I don't think it's good.
Dan: Oopsy Jar or Simple Favor?
Malin: Both! But I meant Simple Favor. There's no double meaning that I can detect.
Dan: Well keep in mind that at the end of this podcast, we will come up with new names for this movie. So no foreshadowing!
Malin: Even if I do it twice?
Dan: The simple favor represents two things. One: when Anna said it one time. Two: when Blake said it a different time.
Malin: Both referring to the same instance. Nevermind, it is good!
Dan: Well Malin, we certainly went through most of what happens in this movie. Any additional things you want to cover or mention? Anything we missed?
Malin: I suppose we could have complained about Dennis Nylon a little more.
Dan: Go for it. Dennis Nylon, for those who don't remember or in case we never really got into it, was Blake's boss.
Malin: The classic "Your t-shirt is from the Gap so I will be a huge bitch to you" trope.
Dan: Yes with the added twist of there was no reason for him to be in the movie, let alone have a bunch of scenes.
Malin: There are plenty of reasons not to shop at the Gap, but classist bullshit ain't it. The first time we hear what Emily's job is--I think from that chorus of parents charged with clunky exposition, and we didn't even need to know it then?--you just know it's dumb.
But 1000% she could have just been a rich SAHM, and the plot would be identical. Even more motivation for the life insurance policy actually!
Dan: It could have even been MORE interesting. Her source of wealth, like her, is mysterious. Suspicious, even!
Malin: But no--better to clear it up by giving her a job and some scenes where Anna sneaks around an office comedically.
Dan: But anyway, that's Dennis Nylon folks. The world famous designer who is a rude bitch and walks around his office all day being rude.
Malin: The only positive of Dennis Nylon is that Patti Harrison got to be in this movie as his assistant type.
Dan: I will say this. The acting in this movie: good! The shots: fine! Everything is in focus when it's supposed to be! The soundtrack: tonally off! But like a lot of the tonal misses I unfortunately have to at some point blame the direction. There was just never any real sense of actual noir / mystery to anything that happens. But the movie sure has all the trappings as if there were.
Malin: I think some of the acting direction (or maybe the writing?) for the minor characters was also off and otherwise agree with this assessment! I don't think the soundtrack worked, but I do love that Bonnie & Clyde song.
Dan: Wow yes beautiful and also: this movie is literally FINE. It has a lot of bad things, as we discussed, but also who cares. It's FINE. there are many worse movies.
NOW I'd like to see you tell me I'm not an ally to women. After that support and endorsement.
Malin: Yes! If I wasn't on this podcast, I would have spent much less energy figuring out what I didn't like and left the theater thinking "okay!"
Dan: I would truly rather see this movie exist than like...Nice Guys or whatever the fuck with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Let Blake be Blake! Let Anna carry more movies! I have never seen them but so what!
Malin: Why does everyone love Nice Guys? I didn't get it.
Dan: I never saw it but it looks very bad.
Malin: Did you see Blake in Gone Girl?
Dan: Yes except it was called A Simple Favor.
Malin: The part she plays in this Gone Girl esque movie is so much better cast. I am happy for her! And Anna is very fun in the Pitch Perfect films I have seen.
Dan: Also Blake is good in The Town. And if you can believe it I did NOT see Blake in Cafe Society because I don't see Woody Allen movies because as you already know, I am Good.
Malin: Wait please hold. Oh no we have to delete all of this. Because what I did was conflate two Ben Affleck movies. She is NOT in Gone Girl, and I did NOT like her in The Town! Ugh what a terrible mistake. Also I somehow have seen Cafe Society, and I hate that I have to confess that here. I hated it but don't remember Blake being bad or anything.
Dan: Glad we got to the bottom of that. My main point is: more bad movies with women, please. Thank you, Hollywood.
(please pass this on to Hollywood)
Malin: I will let everyone in Los Angeles know your wishes.
Dan: Well you know what that sound means. It's time to move on to our closing questions. What were your 3 favorite things about this movie?
Malin: 1) Blake Lively's performance
2) The Bonnie & Clyde song
3) Anna Kendrick's wardrobe, which has been heretofore unmentioned but was perfect for her character (except for some boots at one point that I felt like she probably wouldn't wear, but I get because they needed to make her taller standing next to Blake)
(unmentioned, save her socks)
Dan: For me:
1) I liked that everything that happened seemed purposeful. A lot of times with a bad movie it feels like stuff, scenes, lines, shots, just kind of happen and then they put them all together. This did not feel like that. It felt like everything was done the way they wanted it to be done. It just didn't work.
2) As mentioned, I thought Blake Lively was the best thing in this movie and her outfits were also good.
3) It was nice that we all got to learn about insurance. Financial literacy is an increasingly important concept to understand in our world. Perhaps someone will start a vlog about it.
Next question! If you could change one thing about this movie, what would it be? It can be a new scene. Change a character. Anything at all!
Malin: This is hard! I am tempted to say cut Blake's workplace, as we've discussed, but I don't think that would have actually fixed what didn't work in the movie. That was extraneous but not wrong. I think I would take out the attempts at silly comedy and try to go for an actual noir/thriller.
Dan: I would change the Stephanie character a bit. Rather than be a mommy vlogger, I think she could be a ghost hunter. That way, when Blake turns up dead, she can interview the ghost. She would find out that the ghost is actually Blake's twin sister and then together they could get revenge. Rather than trap Blake at the end with a "nanny cam", she could maybe use a ghost trap.
It seems obvious when I say it, but I realize it's harder when you are deep in the script writing process to see these outs.
Malin: Ghost traps are a fun narrative device that I wish I saw more.
Dan: Watch out for my next pilot 😎
Okay final Q! If you could rename this movie, what would you call it?
Malin: I am going to answer this earnestly and had to look up whether Blake's real name was Hope or Faith.
Dan: Wow no spoilers.
Malin: Her name was Faith, so I would call it something cheesy like Keep the Faith (and would make sure some characters said that phrase a few times).
Dan: Wow beautiful. I'd go with: It's A Wonderful Life Insurance Scam or The Breastige.
Malin: The Parent is Missing Trap.
Dan: There she is.
Malin: Idk--twin stuff.
Dan: Well we did it! We solved the greatest mystery of all: what was this movie? Thank you so much for joining us here on the podcast, it has been a real Simple Favor of you. Any last words for the Danheads?
Malin: Thank you for having me, Dan! And thank you to the Danheads out there for doing ME the Simple Favor of reading this far, as I'm sure you all did. And cheers to being house poor!!!
Dan: Wow same! And remember: crazy women are women too!
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