The Little Hours (2017)
Critic Consensus: The Little Hours gets plenty of goofy mileage out of its gifted ensemble, anchoring its ribald laughs in a period comedy with some surprisingly timely subtext.
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Critic Reviews for The Little Hours
The momentum peters out by the end, but by then its job is already done. "The Little Hours" is good for some big laughs.
Whether or not Baena does right by Boccaccio, he definitely does right by Aubrey Plaza, his girlfriend and indie comedy's reigning queen of mean.
No matter how obvious the set-up - what if men and women of the cloth were ... rude and sexy??? - the cast gives every scene just enough of a deadpan spin to sell it, at least for the first hour.
True, The Little Hours is essentially a one-joke comedy - but most of the jokes under the umbrellas of that one joke are pretty damn, I mean darn, funny.
Audience Reviews for The Little Hours
What was Jeff Baena trying to do here? Was he going for rom-com or a period piece? Both suffer for each other's sins in that regard. An amazing comedic cast are wasted on poor dialogue and awkward scenes while the great cinematography and set design are wasted for the sake of a bad laugh. Baena's fun and poignant exploration of post-collegiate ennui, last year's Joshy, packed a solid amount of jokes into its drama, but it seems the director wanted to make a pretty film pretty dumb for a a follow up. The film is set in a fourteenth century convent, yet no attempt is made at making the dialogue period specific. Stylistically, the f-bombs would have been acceptable if not for the substitution of the word "sex" for "penis" or "vagina". Why even bother to be subtle in one instance if not in the other? That is a microcosm of the strange world The Little Hours inhabits, and, had they gone a more crude route, it would have been more effective. Diametrically opposed to the over-the-top comedy romp promised by the trailer, the humor straddles the line between "too subtle" and "completely non-existent". In fact, the only overtly funny parts of the movie are in the trailer. That is, unless you find an awful Mel Brooks attempt at Dark Habits a hilarious and forgivable premise. If you want a good Aubrey Plaza movie, watch Ingrid Goes West instead of this. If you want a good Jeff Baena movie, watch Joshy. If you want to not be disappointed in a comedy, don't watch The Little Hours.
Kudos to whoever edited the trailer because one got the impression that The Little Hours was a very funny flick. Not so for the other 88 minutes. Mildly amusing at the start with a "nuns just wanna have fun (sex)" romp but soon fizzles. Molly Shannon is wasted in what could have been a decent role. Beginning to dislike Brie and Plaza. Dave Franco can't act. (7-23-17)
A BAD HABIT - My Review of THE LITTLE HOURS (2 1/2 Stars) An anachronistic story about medieval nuns starring Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie and Kate Micucci? Yes, please! Sprinkle in performances by Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, Nick Offerman, Jemima Kirke, Adam Pally, and the sublime Lauren Weedman from LOOKING? Sign me up! And then the movie plays out and.....PFFFFFFTTTTTT! What happened to this movie? Writer/director Jeff Baena (LIFE AFTER BETH), in an honorable attempt to give us a mashup of John Waters' shaggy, subversive DESPERATE LIVING and any number of Mel Brooks' comedies, delivers a fun concept and an expert cast, but falls terribly flat when it comes to jokes and forward momentum. Our starring triad play nuns in the Middle Ages who suffer no fools. They hurl expletives at the help with a surprising, and surprisingly hilarious, viciousness. Aubrey Plaza in particular has no right to ever be in a period piece, and most of the film's humor capitalizes on this fact. I'm a sucker for her deadpan style, so I found myself laughing often enough even when not much seemed to be happening. Franco plays the newly hired hand, Massetto, after the nuns scare the prior one away. Massetto has escaped certain death by the hands of the King (Offerman) when caught sleeping with his wife (Weedman). I could have used a good 10 more scenes with Offerman and Weedman, as they completely and wonderfully understood what movie they're in, delivering slightly off-putting, delectable performances. When he arrives at the convent, he must pretend to be deaf and mute to put a lid on temptation lest he blow his cover. From there, things devolve, unleashing a pansexual frenzy and then...well, the movie kinda just ends. Fred Armisen shows up late in the game to deliver a master class in annoying comedy (I mean that as a high compliment), but by then, I was so tired from not laughing nearly as much as I had hoped. I've struggled trying to put my finger on what went wrong. This isn't a case where there was no script and the filmmaker hoped his wildly talented actors would just make things work. Baena clearly has a vision, a slightly flat, unpretentious look at the dark underbelly of religion. While Plaza shines, Alison Brie has very little to play and Micucci's wide eyes make just the sight of her in a tight habit a visual joke. Obviously low budget, the whole production seems to relish in its "let's put on a show" qualities. It's going for the droll tone of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and perhaps SNL's Kyle Mooney's truly funny, anti-humor videos. Adding Borscht-Belt rat-a-tat jokes would have upset the balance, but we're left with something strange, something occasionally funny, but in the end, truly forgettable.
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