This should have been easy.
Assemble a heavenly comedy cast, place them all in a 14th century nunnery, then let them act like your more embarrassing Facebook friends and watch the cash roll in.
So let’s see… we’ve got Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza and Molly Shannon as emotionally unstable nuns, Fred Armisen and John C. Reilly as failed men of the cloth, and Nick Offerman as an abrasive nobleman with Dave Franco playing his swaggering manservant. Comedy Cast, CHECK!
Then get a gorgeous location in which to shoot, like Tuscany. The sets will be convincing; the greenery, lush. Every shot will look like a postcard. And we get a paid trip to Italy! Just make sure to shoot that gorgeous rock bridge during The Golden Hour and feature it prominently.
Finally, the costumes can be a visual gag in their very wearing. And just let Nick Offerman be Nick Offerman, but in a dutch-boy wig. It’ll be hilarious!
Or at least funny some of the time. But when you have a cast like that, you’re bound to get some laughs.
Plaza plays a lesbian witch with a sailor’s mouth, and admittedly the first time she unloads crude modern insults on the hired help while in her full-on nun get-up, it’s pretty funny. Sadly it’s repeated way too often, and it becomes as one-note as the rest of this meandering film, which has oddly aligned elements of everything from comedy, drama, and horror. Halfway through it had me wondering, “What’s the point of this movie?”
Answer: to have comedic actors behave in a contemporary fashion while wearing14th century nun habits.
Micucci’s a walking punchline in an outfit that all but consumes her. She’s a confused social outcast who may also be a lesbian. Maybe. She’s not sure. But Plaza certainly is willing to take advantage of her, messing with her head and heart in more ways than one. Brie longs to be free of her habit and her station, if only she could find a man to take her away from it all. Luckily, Franco drops into her lap quite literally, since Reilly’s drunken Father Tommasso has hired him to help out around the convent because he’s too busy shtupping Shannon’s Mother Superior to tend to everyday chores. Too bad Armisen shows up to see how things are going at the convent, and they are obviously not going well.
And since we don’t have much of a conclusion or resolution, just end the film abruptly, leaving the audience to muse over The Point. At least it was short.
THE LITTLE HOURS
Director: Jeff Baena Writer: Jeff Baena
Stars: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, Jemima Kirke, Nick Offerman
Review written by: Richard Bonaduce
Photos provided by: Sundance Film Festival