A Simple Favor Influences

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood.)

Director Paul Feig is no stranger to reference and parody, with the strongest example being his 2015 James Bond-esque Spy. Feig enjoys playing with classic film genre and his best representation of the past is found in A Simple Favor.

Based on Darcey Bell’s novel, A Simple Favor follows mommy vlogger, Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick), who falls into a fast friendship with the beautifully acid-tongued Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). Emily seems to have a wonderful life, but when she goes missing Stephanie quickly learns she didn’t know much about her new (and only) best friend.

This article contains spoilers for A Simple Favor.

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(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood.)

In 1998, a new generation of filmgoers got an opportunity to visit the Walt Disney Studios classic, The Parent Trap, with a hip, modern remake (that hit theaters 20 years ago this week). The film followed the basic tenets of its predecessor, originally released in 1961, that saw two twins, separated at birth, who decide to reunite their estranged parents. The Parent Trap was a film of its time back in 1961, with a peppy, beach-inspired soundtrack (with a title song sung by Annette Funicello). By 1998, with divorce more common, The Parent Trap became timelier, with two tween girls (both played by Lindsay Lohan) tackling a new scheme to stop their father from marrying the “evil” Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix).

Blake is the character who dominates the film 20 years later, with a cool style and confident air that’s pulled straight from the world of classic cinema.

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Ocean’s 8 Inspirations

(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood.)

Every movie seeks inspiration from films made before. Whether the homage is intentional or not, Hollywood is a land known for cannibalizing itself. Ocean’s 8 builds off several pre-existing properties, and we’re not talking about the film’s obvious inspirations, like the Steven Soderbergh trilogy starting in 2001 with Ocean’s Eleven, nor are we discussing the 1960 Frank Sinatra incarnation of the film of the same name.

What Ocean’s 8 does with its story of eight women and the jewel heist they pull off is draw from the crime capers of the pre-Code, studio era, most notably the 1932 features Trouble in Paradise and Jewel Robbery, where each emphasizes a world where women are in control and crime can be a fun adventure all its own.

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