A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Little Hours is a spoofy comedy set in a medieval convent filled with young novice nuns who haven't yet learned to repress their emotions and sexual urges. Nothing is sacred in the pursuit of laughs; Christianity, sexuality, and traditional male-female roles are all assaulted with a barrage of jokes, sight gags, and general mockery. Expect plenty of lusty, sexual content, including full-frontal female nudity during a campfire orgy, detailed descriptions of past sexual encounters, women aggressively throwing themselves at the one young man in their midst, and all manner of hook-ups, including same-sex, opposite-sex, and group sex. Profanity is loud, fierce, and frequent, ranging from "f--k" and "s--t" to "balls." Several scenes show drinking/drunkenness -- the sacramental wine flows freely. And one vulnerable young novice takes belladonna, a mind-altering substance. A 2017 Sundance hit, it's filled with talented comic actors who clearly relish the opportunity make mischief -- but this isn't a movie for kids.
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What's the story?
The residents of a convent are having a relatively quiet summer in the year 1347 as THE LITTLE HOURS opens. The young nuns may be restless, but their superior, Sister Marea (Molly Shannon), and the kind-but-clueless priest-in-charge, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), believe they have things well in hand. In a nearby village, however, all is not well. The ruthless Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman) catches his faithless wife in an affair with Massetto (Dave Franco), a most responsive servant. Massetto barely escapes with his life and is ultimately rescued by Tommasso. The priest grants the handsome young man refuge at the convent on one condition: To avoid conflict, Massetto must masquerade as a man who neither hears nor speaks. Unsurprisingly, Massetto's presence puts the novice nuns in a tizzy. Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Genevra (Kate Micucci) think that, in him, they've found the answer to their rustic, boring way of life. It's open season on Massetto, complicated by the appearance of Fernanda's long-standing BFF (with benefits), who sneaks in to join the fun. Events escalate into a free-for-all of sexual shenanigans.
Is it any good?
An array of popular comic actors unite to create spoofy pandemonium in a medieval setting, with no-holds-barred sexual antics and randy nuns behaving very badly. If audiences have as much fun as the performers do in The Little Hours (which debuted at the 2017 Sundance Festival), it will earn lots of fans, possibly becoming a cult favorite destined for repeat viewings. Amusing, leisurely moments of "contemplation" of the religious kind are intercut with outrageous bawdy events and comic threats of bodily harm to Massetto, the innocent object of just about everyone's affection.
Standouts in the superb cast include Brie, Plaza, and Micucci, who give terrific, vanity-free performances as the young novices. Fred Armisen, in a small role as a visiting bishop, excels at scene-stealing. Caution: This isn't a film for everyone. Contemporary dialogue and attitudes play against the pastoral setting and centuries-old way of life. And as a send-up of morality, religion, and general human passion, it will certainly be offensive to some.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how sex is portrayed in The Little Hours. Is it loving and meaningful or casual and inconsequential? Why does that matter? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How does sexuality in a farce like The Little Hours differ from the sexuality in a romantic comedy or dramatic love story? Are audiences supposed to take it seriously? How can you tell?
The movie is set centuries ago, but the characters use modern-day language. Did that surprise you? How did the early scene in which Fernanda yells at the gardener in a very modern way set the tone for the rest of the movie?
What does the expression "rooting interest" mean in the context of a story or film? Is it possible for a film to be satisfying if there's no one to root for? Which, if any, characters in this movie are meant to be admirable or heroic?
- In theaters: June 30, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 26, 2017
- Cast: Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Aubrey Plaza
- Director: Jeff Baena
- Studio: Gunpowder & Sky
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic nudity, sexual content and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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