30 Movies in 30 Days: The Little Hours

Had I seen it before: No.

Year: 2017

Director: Jeff Baena

Writer: Jeff Baena, based on the book The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

Where you can stream it now: Netflix or Kanopy

What IMDb says: In the Middle Ages, a young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns. Introduced as a deaf mute man, he must fight to hold his cover as the nuns try to resist temptation.

Why I picked it: Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie are in it.

What I liked: The premise at hand is wonderful. A man has to pretend to be deaf and mute while sexually curious nuns attempt to take advantage of him? That’s exactly the kind of irreverent off-the-wall idea that’s right up my alley.

What I didn’t like: The movie just isn’t that funny. It’s actually appallingly unfunny given the premise and comedic talent they had to work with. But all too often, the humor simply comes from “hey, what if they were nuns but still said ‘fuck’ a lot?” and “hey, isn’t it funny how it’s the 1300s but people are still enjoying sex?” Aubrey Plaza’s character in particular was really hard to buy into. I have no idea why she’s a nun. I have no idea why she gets so mad at people who talk to her. Her personality is so out of left field that she’s just an unlikable asshole, but not even in a funny way.

Another comedic stumbling block is that the premise that’s actually funny isn’t really established until a third of the way through the movie. If that first half hour had actually made me laugh, or gotten me more invested in these characters and their arcs, that would’ve been one thing. But instead I spent the first half hour confused, wondering what the movie was supposed to be about, and what kind of tone it was going for. It wasn’t until that half hour mark, when Dave Franco came to live at the convent, that I actually got excited to see where the movie would go next.

This is also the kind of movie where if it’s not making you laugh, there’s really nothing else going for it. Again, that first half hour is all exposition, but it’s not exposition that makes me like any character more, or gets me excited to see where their journey goes next. It’s not a story that uses medieval views on sexuality to raise poignant questions about modern society. There have been plenty of movies I went into expecting comedy, not gotten comedy, but still found enough other redeeming qualities to like the movie (Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade comes to mind). The Little Hours just falls flat all around.

Will I watch it again: I sure hope not. It’s not good, nor is it bad in a fun way.

Who would enjoy it?: …I really don’t know. This part of the template is here to force me to be positive, and recognize that even when a movie isn’t my cup of tea, it likely is someone else’s. But I really can’t think of anyone I’d recommend this to. There’s better raunchy sex comedies out there. There’s better movies making fun of Catholicism. There’s movies that do both of these things, thank you very much to the lovely blokes at Monty Python for that.

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