Thoughts on The Little Hours (2017)

Everyone knows that a key element of raunchy humor lies in the titillation. Unfortunately, I watched The Little Hours (2017) with my properly forewarned but still Catholic parents (I am too, actually). Maybe keep that in mind as you read my thoughts below on who’s funny and who’s not.

The premise, as many have mentioned, is an old one (this is adapted from Boccaccio, after all): all manner of ribaldry and misbehavior hidden away in a convent. What the film does, though, is turn it up a notch or three. We first get a taste of what’s in store for us when, in an opening scene, Aubrey Plaza suddenly unleashes her Aubrey Plaza-ness on a poor defenseless gardener (Paul Weitz). Unfortunately, it takes a while for the film to work its way back up to that level of hilarity. Despite the star-studded cast, the only two women who really let go and have fun are Plaza and Kate Micucci—by which I mean they break out of the types they were cast as (witch and busybody, respectively) and go so ridiculously insane that it no longer matters what kind of role they were meant to play, or even what kind of film they’re in. Micucci reveals herself to be the barely contained firecracker of wild abandon we always knew she was (“ingestion of drugs, lying with a woman, not being baptized, . . . being a busybody, filthy conversation, vain jangling, drinking, eating blood, . . . envy, fornication, homosexuality, . . . lustfulness, reveling, mischief in [her] heart”), while Plaza fulfills the promise of her Twitter handle, @evilhag, beyond anyone’s wildest nightmares (“apostasy, heresy, abusive language, . . . homosexuality, revelings, witchcraft”—at which point Plaza makes a “what’s the big deal?” gesture). When the girls offer to bring Dave Franco back to the convent, it feels like he’s just going from the fire back into the frying pan. The two best male performances both occur when they play the straight guy to the sins of others: John C. Reilly taking Franco’s confession, and the tribunal hosted by Fred Armisen as bishop—the second-best scene of the film, with my favorite line: “Where am I?!”

The best scene is when the entire clusterfuck blows up, powered by Micucci and capped off by Reilly, in the little hours of the night.

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