Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Little Hours: Movie Review


A nun sex comedy goes crazy and sometimes funny.
The Little Hours is a medieval satirical farce, a sex romp through a nunnery and its countryside. The movie looks exactly like it could have been a Monty Python sketch. An idea that probably should have remained just that, but writer and director Jeff Baena and the cast with a background in sitcoms were able to stretch it out with enough laughs to keep the audience’s attention. 2017

Directed by: Jeff Baena

Screenplay by: Jeff Baena

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, John C. Reilly

The script is very thin – the actors don’t have much to work with apart from make the current scene as funny as possible, and the big problem with this is that sometimes that scene just isn’t funny. Much of the humour in the first third of the film revolves around the fact that these nuns curse. They swear, they scream, and they are rude just for the fun of being rude. We’ve all seen Aubrey Plaza do that many times and putting her in a nun’s habit doesn’t make it any funnier.

Dave Franco as Massetto, and Aubrey Plaza as Fernanda. Courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky.
Our main characters are three nuns: Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) who will spend who entire day cussing out people with a dour look on her face – that’s her entire reason of being; Ginerva (Kate Micucci) she likes screeching and will spend her days being hysterical about nothing; Alessandra (Alison Brie) just wants to get married – her character is actually quite cute because she has a genuine earnestness for such a modest goal. Paul Reiser shows up as Alessandra’s father for one scene where he tells her daughter that unfortunately he can’t get a dowry worked out for her potential husband because he was just asking for too much money, so perhaps her goal in life should be for embroidery rather than marriage.

The film takes a turn for the better when it introduces characters on the other side of the river from the nunnery. Nick Offerman has a few very funny scenes where he launches into diatribes about his richness and the terribleness of the Croatians and Welch. His wife sits there rolling her eyes while she sneaks off to have sex with the servants; it’s her inability to care about actually sneaking off that finally gets us to main plot, and the best character of the movie. When she’s caught with Massetto (Dave Franco) and her husband wants to torture him, Massetto runs off and finds refuge with Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) who takes him back to the nunnery.

A lot of the humour is just subverting the expected decorum for church officials. Father Tommasso is a drunk and his drinking gets him into trouble, but decides if Massetto can pretend to be a deaf mute, then he can work at the nunnery and they can help each other out. Franco is great with the humour in this film. As much as he is just the hot servant guy that every girl (and wife and nun) wants to have sex with, he brings a lot to the character and makes the fake deaf mute role very funny.

The Little Hours isn’t trying to be funny by being offensive, it’s just trying to be funny by being unexpected. It is very funny in some scenes, unsubtly not funny in other scenes, and it really only works for the few characters that can bring some heart – notably Franco as Massetto and Brie as Alessandra. The film attempts to go full-on crazy at the end, but probably should have been toned down a bit.