As it turns out, foul talking, sexually repressed, naughty nuns living in an austere medieval convent really is as funny as it sounds or much funnier than you’d expect, depending on your point of view.
Either way, “The Little Hours” is an absolutely hilarious bawdy sex farce from Jeff Baena. His “adaptation” of Decameron is packed with comedic royalty and hits the mark soundly, although it feels much more like an homage to Monty Python than it does Boccaccio. No complaints on that one.
Massetto (Dave Franco) is a runaway servant/sex slave who finds himself in the grasps of three lusty women of God, Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) and Ginerva (Kate Micucci) who are all equally riotous in their performances. His escape from the castle and his master, the always uproarious Nick Offerman, leads him to a chance mid-stream encounter with John C. Reilly, the lone Father at the convent, who has drunkenly lost and destroyed all of the sisters’ embroideries that he was off to sell. The sociable yet feckless, Father Tommasso (Reilly), devises a plan to keep the smack talking, undersexed trying to be oversexed, concupiscent nuns off the trail of his new hired hand. Massetto pretends to be deaf and mute but he ain’t great at it. It’s really all for naught anyway as it’s not the voice of the shirtless young stud that the sisters are after. They take turns hungrily seducing or more accurately, in some cases, attacking him in their particular ways. Franco adeptly goes from nervous to horny and back again throughout the entire movie but the women of this film steal every scene, each with their unique comedic aplomb.
The anachronistic dialogue and modern storytelling set against the 14th-century backdrop is the comedic device that the movie goes back to ceaselessly but it’s so brilliantly executed by the stellar cast that it never feels played out.
Brie perfectly plays the sweet and terribly naive young innocent still hoping to be rescued from this life by her father, the always funny Paul Reiser. Micucci is hilarious as a walking, screaming, confused mass of anxious neurosis. Plaza doesn’t stray far from the character she’s come to be known to embody and once again her deadpan delivery and nasty disposition lead her to comedic victory. Molly Shannon oddly plays the straight man in most of her scenes but does so expertly. Fred Armisen is superbly laughable trying to ascertain just how sinful the ladies of the convent really are. His devoted, earnest, terribly shocked Bishop character is ridiculously funny before he even speaks. Watching him try to muddle through the details of what’s been going on is the best kind of laugh out loud fun.
The anachronistic dialogue and modern storytelling set against the 14th-century backdrop is the comedic device that the movie goes back to ceaselessly but it’s so brilliantly executed by the stellar cast that it never feels played out. The batty storyline twists through secret sexual encounters, constant tattling and backstabbing, shadowy witch ceremonies and what may or may not be a sexually abused donkey but it’s the easy improv and perfect timing of the actors that give this movie its value.
“The Little Hours” is a clever film with a decent script but a fantastic cast. What it lacks in actual filmic heft it more than makes up for with laughter. It may not be the most memorable film you see this year but it’s worth the cash and 90 minutes of your time without a doubt. Loads of fun.
“The Little Hours” is rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, and language. 90 minutes. Opening this Friday at the ArcLight Hollywood.