Movie Review: “The Little Hours”
The Little Hours
When a young man (Dave Franco) gets into some trouble, and is forced on the run, he goes to a priest (John C. Reilly) seeking asylum. Unfortunately, the men after him are dangerous, so he needs somewhere to lie low. The priest lets the young man stay at his convent, working as a farmer. Although already off the radar, they decide that he should also pretend to be deaf and mute (in order to avoid unwanted attention and interactions). However, with three emotionally unstable nuns living at the convent, unwanted attention will not be so easy to avoid.
Alessandra (Alison Brie), Ginerva (Kate Micucci), and Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) are nuns at the convent. Alessandra has a rebellious attitude and complicated relationship with her father. Fernanda has a fiery temper and unusual interests. Ginerva is mostly responsible, but has trouble resisting the bad influences that are Alessandra and Fernanda. The three form a group of wild and unpredictable nuns that all have their sights set on the young, new farmer. This is a very unfortunate situation for someone who is trying to stay off of the radar.
The Pros & Cons
The Supporting Cast (+2pts)
Slow Start (-4pts)
The Premise (+3pts)
The Execution (-5pts)
Alison Brie & Aubrey Plaza (+6pts)
The Comedy (-4pts)
Pro: The Supporting Cast (+2pts)
The supporting cast was fun because it was filled with great comedic actors and actresses. I honestly had some fun seeing what familiar face would pop up next. The filmmakers got some great comedic talent for the supporting cast of this movie (such as John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, and Fred Armisen). They were not given a lot to do, however, so were not really able to showcase their comedic chops. That being said, it was still fun to see them in this movie. I have seen each of them knock comedic roles out of the park; have seen very funny performances from each of them. Unfortunately, this was very far from any of these actors’ funniest movie, but it was moderately entertaining to see them pop up in this movie.
Con: Slow Start (-4pts)
The beginning of this movie was definitely slow, and not in a good, slow-burn kind of way. The beginning of this movie (maybe about the first thirty minutes or so) was not funny, it was not eventful, and it was not dramatic. Everything was just kind of happening in a lack-luster sort of way. The cast made it watchable, but the filmmakers definitely could have done a better job at setting up this story, as well as the characters in it, in a more entertaining way.
Does the movie end up picking up? Yes, but not enough to get me completely over the slow, boring start. Fortunately, the filmmakers had a well-known, entertaining cast. Had they not, this movie (particularly the beginning) would have been a real struggle to endure.
Pro: The Premise (+3pts)
On paper, I think this premise is a strong one. A young man, trying to stay under the radar of the people who are after him, stays at a convent full of emotionally unstable (and to be honest, horny) nuns. This premise, mixed with the cast in these roles, could have made for a really great comedy. I will get into what I liked about Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza later in this review, but they were not the only great casting choices in this movie.
Dave Franco did a good job good job as the young man. He was trying to be anonymous but had three crazy nuns all over him. Dave Franco did a good job of playing into the nervousness and awkwardness of his character. Kate Micucci also did a good job of playing the innocent nun falling victim to two bad influences. It was a strong premise, and the cast was even stronger. I just wish the filmmakers did a better job of executing that premise.
Con: The Execution (-5pts)
The filmmakers had a decent premise, and a great cast, but I thought they really dropped the ball with the film’s execution. The plot felt random (in an almost incoherent sort of way), the dialogue felt hollow, and I have already mentioned my issues with the uneventful and uninteresting beginning of this movie. Again, on paper, this movie had the makings of a great comedy, but it felt like the filmmakers tried to throw it together with as little effort and thought as possible. I really wanted to like this movie, because I like pretty much everyone who was in it. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not seem to have any idea of what they wanted to do with this movie, and it showed. It’s best moments were only chuckle worthy and it’s worst moments were outright boring. Most of the movie was somewhere in the middle, but that is not exactly a great range to be in for the majority of your film’s runtime.
Pro: Alison Brie & Aubrey Plaza (+6pts)
More than anything else, these two were what made the movie watchable. Alison Brie is always seems to balance comedy and drama in a really natural way. Her performance in this movie was no exception. Of the three nuns, Alessandra is primarily the one that drives the plot forward. Alison Brie did this well. She played into the drama that the character required, and did so while maintaining the character’s light-hearted tone (which allowed her to switch back and forth between the drama and the comedy very smoothly).
Alison Brie was great at playing into the drama without sacrificing her character’s comedy comedy. By doing this so well, it allowed Aubrey Plaza to almost exclusively stay in her comedic zone. Aubrey Plaza does so well at playing characters who are a bit crazy. If you are familiar with some of her roles, then you know what I am talking about, and she brought her unique flavor to this role. Fernanda is awkward, she has a temper, and she is the most unpredictable of the three nuns. These two handled their respective roles really well, and were (in my opinion) the best parts of this movie.
Con: The Comedy (-4pts)
This movie had some funny moments, there is no doubt about that. However, as I mentioned before, its funniest moments were mostly just chuckle-worthy. Most of these funnier moments were a result of Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, or Dave Franco, but even the best comedic moments felt like they were missing something. Everything just felt so random, and thrown together. Comedy needs context, and with a story written so poorly, the comedy in this movie felt flat. I do not believe the fault lies with the performances, as most were comedically solid. Rather, I think there was nothing to support the comedy (which made it feel disjointed and stale). There were definitely some funny moments, but given the stacked, talented, comedic cast (as well as the silly premise) this movie should have and could have been a lot funnier than it was.
Grade: C- (73pts)
I wanted to like this movie, as it had a decent premise and a great cast, but the movie had more than its fair share of problems. The beginning of the movie felt really slow and uneventful, but it was the overall writing that bothered me the most. Everything just felt randomly thrown together. It hurt the plot, the dialogue felt weak, but (most importantly) the comedy fell flat as a result.
The premise was entertaining, and the movie was definitely at its best when playing into that premise, but the movie’s greatest strength was by far its cast. I liked Dave Franco and Kate Micucci in their respective roles, and I liked the supporting cast (John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, and Nick Offerman). The standouts of this movie, however, were Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza. Alison Brie did a pretty solid job of balancing her character’s comedic tone while giving a dramatic performance whenever the story needed it. She did a good job with this, which allowed Aubrey Plaza to stay in her comedic zone (the zone that has given her so much success). The movie’s cast was strong, but that was really all this movie had going for it. They made the movie watchable, but (to reiterate in an attempt to be perfectly clear) the plot felt weak, the dialogue felt stale, and a lot of the comedy fell flat as a result of the film’s poor writing.