Take “The Decameron,” a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, add in “Mean Girls” and you have “The Little Hours.” Set at the time of the Black Death, director Jeff Baena has made a quirky comedy with an all-star comedy cast including Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon, period costumes and dialogue that would not be out of place in a raunchy, modern day teen comedy.
The spoiled Alessandra (Brie), eye-rolling Fernanda (Plaza), and befuddled Ginevra (Micucci) are medieval nuns, bored out of their minds at the convent. They spend the day doing chores, stealing bottles of communion wine and having impure thoughts.
When Massetto (Dave Franco), a young servant forced to flee home after he was caught sleeping with his Lord’s (Nick Offerman) wife (Lauren Weedman), arrives at the convent he provides a release for the pent up repression. Cue bawdy wickedness and even a satanic ritual or two.
Like the period “Carry On” movies, in “The Little Hours” the genre is the joke. Baena mines some outrageous moments by casting Brie, Plaza and Micucci as repressed, nuns but the humour primarily comes from the situation, not the script. In other words, like many of the “Carry On” movies, the idea is funnier than the actual script.
“The Little Hours” is a movie with “mischief in its heart.” Its satire is so broad it doesn’t aim to offend. Instead, it revels in its irreverence, relying on its cast—particularly the trio of nasty nuns and John C. Reilly as Father Tommasso—to find whatever humour is hidden in this audacious material.