Saturday, July 8, 2017

"The Little Hours"


It takes about ten minutes to read the first story of the third day of Boccaccio's The Decameron, which I know not because I was a mediocre literature major but because I Googled it and read the story after seeing The Little Hours.

A quick recap for those of you, who like me, weren't paying enough attention in school -- The Decameron is a collection of stories, and the one on which The Little Hours is based says, basically, nuns are women, and women like sex as much as men, so just because they wear habits doesn't mean nuns are any less randy than anyone else.

As far as movie ideas go, it doesn't really jump out at you, but here it is anyway, and The Little Hours is endlessly amused by putting some pretty fine comic actors in medieval religious attire and letting them have at it.

The result is a bit like a bunch of graduate students in literature got together and made their version of Smokey and the Bandit.  They think it's absolutely hilarious.  You can practically see them cracking up just before and after the cameras roll.  It's a little surprising The Little Hours doesn't have a blooper reel running over the credits, the kind where Dom De Luise takes off his toupee and Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson can't stop giggling.

The trouble is, they're not actually being nearly as funny as they think they are, and the audience isn't really in on whatever the joke is.  There's really only one big joke in The Little Hours, which is that the three nuns at the center of the story talk in modern dialect and use the F-word a lot.  A lot.  Because nothing is funnier than a nun with foul mouth.

They're also horny nuns, living in a secluded convent in Tuscany.  One day, in a convoluted story that slogs on and proves Einstein was right by making 20 minutes feel like two hours, a hot guy named Masetto (Dave Franco) shows up in their midst, and the nuns, who are played by Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie and Kate Micucci, all decide they want to have sex with him.  (Well, one of them, the goofy-eyed one played by Micucci, actually decides she wants to have sex with the other nuns.)

There could be something crazy and farcical about the movie, but it's a listless sort of slog.  The actors all seem to be doing their own thing, none of them really connects with each other, especially not John C. Reilly as a priest who helps Molly Shannon (completely wasted here) manage the convent.

Little vignettes happen, and the way they're stitched together gives the movie the feeling of having been a bunch of improvised days on the set that someone assembled into a loose semblance of a plot. The only time anything ever gets close to the level of humor that the filmmakers must have thought they were achieving is when Fred Armisen shows up as a dumbstruck bishop who can't believe the stories he hears about what goes on in the convent.  He strikes the farcical tone the rest of the movie should have hit.

The poster for The Little Hours cites a real review from The Catholic League that calls it "trash, pure trash."  If only that were true.  Trash would have been a lot of fun.  The Little Hours is mostly kind of a bore.

Viewed July 8, 2017 -- ArcLight Sherman Oaks


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