The Little Hours
by George Wolf
Two nuns lead a wandering donkey back home to their convent in the 1600s. The groundskeeper offers them a quiet, respectful good morrow. In response, the sisters promptly unleash a torrent of f-bomb filled abuse his way, with an aggressive command to keep his perverted eyes to himself.
Welcome to the The Little Hours, a desert-dry sendup of one of the classic tales in The Decameron, a 14th century Italian novel.
This update from writer/director Jeff Baena (Life After Beth, script for I Heart Huckabees) keeps the original text’s basic premise. Servant Massetto (Dave Franco) is running for his life after being caught canoodling Francesca (Lauren Weedman), the wife of Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman). Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) offers Massetto refuge as the new groundskeeper at the convent, but only if he pretends to be a deaf/mute.
The handsome Massetto is fresh meat to the ladies of the convent, many of whom are not there from a Godly calling. In short order, Massetto is juggling the sweet Alessandra (Alison Brie), the crazy Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza, also one of the film’s producers) and the sexually confused Ginerva (Kate Micucci).
The Holy Grail scene with Sir Galahad in Castle Anthrax will come to mind, and not just for the lustful young ladies. The entire affair has the feel of a Monty Python setup that just never turns a silly corner. The extremely talented ensemble (which also includes Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen and more) plays it nearly stone-faced all the way, just daring you to think there is anything humorous about their anachronistic sex farce.
Some of it is screamingly funny, and other times the film falls flat. Through it all, though, there runs a sly comment on the treatment of women (specifically in the Church) that’s smart and well-played.
It’s never a consistent gut-buster, but The Little Hours is inspired, ambitious lunacy that is always entertaining.