'The Little Hours' Review: Nuns Go Wild In One Of 2017's Funniest Films [LAFF]

The Little Hours is based on one of the tales found in The Decameron, a collection of 14th century novellas from Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. But even if, like me, you'd never heard of that author before (let alone read his work), all you really need to know about this film is that it features a cast of hilarious people doing filthy, hysterical things. The trailer prominently features a quote from the Catholic League that refers to the movie as "pure trash" – but there's an important distinction that needs to be made there. It may be trashy, but it's definitely not trash. The Little Hours is one of the funniest films of 2017.

In the year 1347, a European convent loses its gardener when he quits after being constantly harassed by Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie), Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Sister Genevra (Kate Micucci), a few of the nuns who live there. Meanwhile, a virile young man named Massetto (Dave Franco) works as a servant to the flamboyantly dressed Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman) in a nearby castle. While the paranoid Bruno hilariously and drily drones on about a potential Florentine conspiracy (this is some peak Offerman, folks), Massetto screws Bruno's wife on the side. Bruno inevitably finds out about his wife's infidelity, and Massetto makes a run from the castle to avoid getting killed. And hey, a gardener job at a convent just opened up – how convenient!

The priest who runs the joint, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), hires Massetto under one very specific condition that I won't spoil, but it's partially to prevent the nuns from tormenting him as they did the previous gardener. But it turns out they torment him in an entirely different way: they're super repressed and super horny, and all three of them separately want to get it on with the hot young stud.

Writer/director Jeff Baena (Life After Beth, Joshy) doesn't even bother attempting period-appropriate dialogue or having his actors adopt accents; his characters speak like modern people, causing a dissonance between setting and dialogue that takes a second to get used to but eventually just makes everything even funnier. Fred Armisen has a ton of great lines in a small role as a bishop, but he receives his biggest laugh simply by showing up on screen for the first time looking ridiculous, with a goofy grin on his face. The film's downside is that Baena's script sort of sputters to an ending, but what came before is so funny, it hardly matters.

At its core, The Little Hours is about desire and how hiding under the guise of religion doesn't quell those  desires, but might inflate them further. It addresses the all-too-common hypocrisy of churchgoers (the most "pious" families often aren't nearly as clean as they appear on the surface) and clergy alike, but fittingly, the film is ultimately more concerned with telling a funny story than preaching to its audience about its messages. For all its revelry, swearing, nudity, and witch rituals, there truly is a beating heart at this movie's center, and the way it treats it wraps up its character arcs is surprisingly tender and sweet. But this is a comedy first and foremost, and a wildly successful one at that: The Little Hours is uproariously funny and will easily go down as one of the funniest movies of the year.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10