If we’re being completely honest, comedies in the recent months have not worked. Sometimes the idea is there, but the execution or the script fails the film. The Little Hours is not one of those films. It’s not only one of the craziest comedies you’ve seen in a while, it’s also the most ingenious. Below are some reasons why The Little Hours is the comedy of the summer.
The cast include some of the funniest people in Hollywood today. For some reason, people in Hollywood keep bringing Amy Schumer back to be the lead in movies. While that works for a finite amount of people, many people aren’t showing up for her anymore, as the box office business shows. With The Little Hours, director Jeff Baena has brought together some of the funniest men and women in the business. Alison Brie has been killing it as of late, with her performance in Netflix’s Glow earning her raves. Aubrey Plaza steals pretty much every movie she’s in and Nick Offerman has cemented his status as a comedy legend with another quirky, but hilarious performance. The three main characters in this movie play off each other brilliantly and have obvious chemistry, which allows them to create some truly brilliant comedic moments that stay with you long after the curtains go up.
The vulgarity works. Like Rough Night or Girls Trip, The Little Hours is probably not a film you’ll want to see with your family. Yes it’s a movie about nuns. But as seen in the trailer, the Catholic League called it “pure trash”. They’re not wrong either. It features every taboo in the book, but they make you laugh so hard you’ll forget to feel guilty about watching this and sing Jeff Baena’s praises. Raunchy and vulgar comedies don’t always work – there’s a fine line between funny and offensive – but it works in The Little Hours because it’s so contradictory to what we expect. The dissonance between Catholicism and inappropriate sex jokes makes for a hilarious juxtaposition.
A lot of it is improvisation! The reason this movie feels so organic is because in many ways it is. There wasn’t a traditional script used for the film. Baena is credited for writing the script, but there was really only an outline of how the story should progress, giving the actors a lot of free range to say and do what felt right for their characters. Scriptless movies aren’t a new concept. 2013’s Drinking Buddies was also created without a real script and that film turned out to be a really charming comedy, as well. On the more dramatic side, both Like Crazy and Blue Valentine were mostly improvised films where actors were able to become fully immersed in their characters to let the dialogue come to them naturally.
Getting the right cast that knows how to react to each other is half the battle. Plaza and Offerman, who worked together on Parks and Recreation noted how similar it was to their old show because they were allowed to go nuts for a while, which led to scenes of brilliance that weren’t in the script. Obviously, Baena is also responsible for that because a good director knows when to let his actors do their thing. We don’t expect characters who say “I shall” to also say “Bring me his balls”, but it absolutely works. It’s so unexpected that you can’t help but laugh.
The Little Hours does a lot things right, which is why it stands out in this year of awful comedies. If studios take note and give genuinely funny comics a chance then we might be lucky for years to come. But the most important thing we learned from this movie is that nuns can be freaking hilarious and Nick Offerman can pull of any hairstyle.
The Little Hours is in limited theaters across Canada now.