‘The Little Hours’ Mini Review

I'm a bit befuddled by The Little Hours.

This is a movie set in the Middle Ages that stars Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Molly Shannon, and Kate Micucci as nuns, Jemima Kirke as a friend of one of the nuns, John C. Reilly as a priest, Nick Offerman as a nobleman who has been cuckolded by one of his servants, and Dave Franco as said servant, who flees his master and is taken in by the oversexed nuns. Every one of these people is hilarious and every one has starred in comedies I have found to be outrageously funny. The concept—basically a nunsploitation flick based on the works of a 14th century writer—seems like it would be right in my wheelhouse, given my enjoyment of farces like Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail and my aforementioned appreciation of the actresses playing the nuns being -sploitated.

And yet! For the first, I dunno, 60 to 70 minutes of this 90 minute movie I didn't laugh. Not once. Maybe I cracked a smile or two? It wasn't until Fred Armisen shows up playing a bishop and is forced to punish the nuns (who have engaged in witchcraft) and the priest (who has engaged in carnal relations with one of the nuns) that I finally laughed out loud. It's really bizarre. I'm still confused, two weeks or so later. Never before have I watched a movie in which so many people I find hilarious have combined for so few laughs.

Perhaps the problem is that The Little Hours is somewhat shoddily scripted, with little in the way of witty banter or verbal humor, relying instead on oddball situations (like Plaza, Brie, and Micucci berating a peasant for making eye contact with them)? Perhaps the filmmakers thought they could rely on the jarring contrast of foul-tongued nuns with the 14th-century setting, just as the brilliant minds behind Bad Moms thought they could make a movie about moms that curse and be praised for their visionary work? Perhaps The Little Hours is destined to become a cult classic, consumed by pot-addled sophomores in dorm rooms across the country in 10 years? Perhaps I just don't, like, get it, man?

I dunno. I'm happy to take the blame, I guess, but the simple fact of the matter is: This movie has one of the worst laughs-per-minute-per-genius-comic-actor ratios I've ever experienced in my filmgoing life. As a comedy, it fails. The last 20 minutes or so—again, after Armisen appears, breathing some life into the proceedings with his arch, disappointed bishop—help matters somewhat, but you're in for quite a slog to get to that point.