THE LITTLE HOURS Review: 6 out of 10 (Perversion-Lite)
Is it bad to say that for a film that was banned by the Roman Catholic League that...I thought it would be raunchier? Dirtier? More perverse? That isn't to say that THE LITTLE HOURS doesn't push the envelope and have some pretty wild scenes of sexuality, drunkenness, and even witchcraft --all set in a 14th-century convent. It certainly has some racy moments. But when you have talents like Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, and Molly Shannon along with Fred Armisen, Nick Offerman, Paul Reiser, and Jon Gabrus... it just seems like it would be [sigh]... funnier.
Though it takes place in the 14th century, the film keeps all the dialogue (and plenty of foul language) current and modern, which makes this period piece feel much more like an extended sketch piece. Medieval nuns Allessandra (Brie), Fernanda (Plaza) and Ginerva (Micucci) all lead a simple life in their convent. Most days are spent in "mean girls" mode as they berate the local laborers, spy on each other, and whining about their lives. After the women finally drive the local laborer off, Father Tommasso (Reilly) brings on Massetto (Franco) to live and work in the convent--disguising him as a deaf-mute in an attempt to ward off any temptations among the nuns. Not only does this not work, it actually encourages the horny nuns to engage a man that is forced to keep secrets with his "disabilities." Drugs, revelry, and a lot of sex results in a complete breakdown at the convent.
THE LITTLE HOURS has some interesting subtext commentary about religion and sexuality. However, the film seems a little more goofy than raunchy--despite its ideas. This is a movie that feels like it might have been made in the 1970s in the wake of THE LIFE OF BRIAN, offering more of the same when it comes to the level of silliness and camp. This is essentially a one joke movie that probably would have worked better as a short film, condensing more of the humor. There are some funny scenes, to be sure, and Fred Armisen steals the scenes he is in without a doubt. But for an ensemble cast like this doing riffs and clear improv, one has to wonder where all the funny went. THE LITTLE HOURS is a film that doesn't quite equal the sum of its parts, but still offers some rude, crude, and sophomoric laughs.