How funny you find The Little Hours comes down to how funny you find the concept of a nun saying fuck. If that makes you giggle just thinking about it, then you are on to a winner. If you are going to need a bit more then you might struggle.
Set in the middle ages, The Little Hours has a star-studded cast. Our three foul-mouthed nuns (Audrey Plaza, Alison Brie and Kate Micucci) are led away from their holy life when Father Tomasso (John C. Reily) brings back Masseto (Dave Franco), a servant who is on the run from his master (Nick Offerman) after being caught sleeping with his wife. Tomasso and Masseto agree that he will pretend to be a deaf and dumb mute, but that doesn’t stop the sisters being caught off guard by the appearance of an attractive young man in their midst.
The Little Hours is funny but never as funny as you want it to be. It’s only in the last half hour that it truly takes off but before that it is curiously slow paced. We spend a lot of time wandering around the convent listening into the nuns’ lives. For a film that is only around 90 minutes long, it’s a lot of time to spend dawdling.
Which is indicative of the real problem here, we kind of lack a plot. Stuff happens but we are light on real drama, and once you get past the idea of rowdy nuns there isn’t much below the surface. This is a lightweight film throwing fists in the heavyweight division.
Because what it does have, is the cast and it’s that which saves it from mediocrity. Audrey Plaza and Alison Brie continue their evolutions away from being famous for one TV show by playing complete opposites. Plaza is dour and pissed off, losing her cool at any man she deems to have talked to her while Brie is sweetness and light, dreaming of the day she can leave this convent behind and start her life. It’s playing to type, but it’s playing to type because they are both very good at it.
Elsewhere, John C. Reily is his usual reliable self as the Father who likes the sacramental wine a bit too much, and Kate Micucci has several film stealing scenes. Even she can’t compete with Fred Armisen, however, who appears in the third act as Bishop Bartolomeo and completely steals the show. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Molly Shannon who is criminally underused as Sister Marea.
The Little Hours is a step up from writer and director Jeff Baena’s first film Life After Beth. However, it still lacks something to truly put him over the top. Even with a cast of brilliant comic actors, you constantly feel like the big joke is just around the corner, and when it does take off in the final act, it is quickly over. You’ll find it hard not to enjoy this film, but you’ll find it equally hard to love it.
Verdict: Hall of Fame