NEW TO HULU! There is something delightful around every corner (and a few lovely curves) in The Little Hours, a Middle Ages-set farce with wildly anachronistic language directed by Jeff Baena.
The script is based on a cycle of stories from The Decameron, a collection of 100 novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). It pre-dates The Canterbury Tales and is thought to have been an inspiration for them. Knowing this sets an expectation that the material might be heavy and dry, but it’s not at all. Rather, what we get is a light sex farce, medieval Italian style.
Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, and Alison Brie play angry, profane, and perverted nuns at a convent in the 14th century run by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) and Sister Marea (Molly Shannon). A young servant named Massetto (Dave Franco) from a nearby manor stumbles into the priest as he is trying to escape his master, Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman), after being caught with the Lord’s wife. Tommasso takes Massetto in and gives him a job as a gardener, but being an attractive young man, he catches the eye of the surly and often violent young nuns.
Tommasso insists that Massetto pretends he’s a deaf-mute to keep the nuns from asking too many questions, which works until each of the nuns, in turn, decides Masetto would be a good place to start their deferred sexual explorations. A friend from town, Marta (Jemima Kirk), helps the ladies steal wine and drunkenly holds forth about the joys of sex, which sparks their interest in finding out for themselves. Hilarity definitely ensues.
Nudity happens more than one normally expects from a movie featuring nuns (in a mainstream film anyway).
“Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, and Alison Brie play angry, profane, and perverted nuns…”
John C. Reilly showing up in a movie is like your best friend wandering in through the open garage door with a cold 6-pack. You know you’re going to have a nice, chill time. There are real laughs in his portrayal of a priest a little too fond of dipping into the sacramental wine (and the Mother Superior as well).
Nick Offerman is killing it this year. He just gets better. In The Little Hours, he’s playing Lord Bruno, master of a manor obsessed with the as-yet-to-materialize foreign invasion he’s been predicting for years. His deadpan delivery and ridiculous costume are hilarious.
Plaza was a producer on this movie and, along with director Baena, created an environment that was very loosely scripted. Most of the dialog is improvised. Fred Armisen pops in at the end, and the chaos gets even more chaotic.
The Little Hours reminded me, more than once, of Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the film careens from one outrageous situation to the next. There are even witches, but not the type that weighs the same as a duck.
"…there are even witches, but not the type that weigh the same as a duck."