The Little Hours
The Little Hours isn’t a complete disaster, but it’s only a few big laughs removed from being a significant waste of time.
In writer/director Jeff Baena’s riff on the first story from the third day in Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, an impressive collection of today’s top comic stars don medieval garb and exist in that setting, yet speak as if New Yorkers on vacation at a themed retreat in rural Italy.
The innate silliness of anachronistic dialogue in a simpler era is bound to yield some wildly funny moments and indeed delivers on that potential here and there courtesy of Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci and Molly Shannon as nuns, John C. Reilly and Fred Armisen as priests, Nick Offerman as a vengeful lord and Dave Franco as his fugitive servant.
Beyond this general wacky tone, however, one is often left questioning why The Little Hours exists and what its appealing cast saw in the material beyond an enjoyable shoot — whose delights all but fail to translate to the screen — and another opportunity for Baena’s past collaborators to be captured by his consistently professional camerawork.
While getting to spout contemporary profanity in unlikely surroundings was also surely part of the draw, it’s ironic that the only times the film feels like it has something coherent to say about society are the few instances when the source material is allowed to shine through the postmodern sheen.
These centuries-old musings on religious hypocrisy and human nature are as potent today as they were upon publication, but getting to them shouldn’t be so difficult.
Grade: C. Rated R. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Gunpowder & Sky)