The debauchery-ridden weekend is a staple of lewd comedy. Director Jeff Baena’s film Joshy adheres to a similar bent of sex, drugs and indulgence. His follow-up, The Little Hours, attempts to put a twist on the raucous ensemble comedy by drawing from tales in Boccaccio’s The Decameron and maintaining the 14th century setting. The movie, however, struggles to be more than its concept. Characters are barely developed and are mostly there in service of the risqué scenarios and jokes, which are risqué purely because of the era. It’s very much a project of efficacy, with little done to enhance the overall movie. There are humorous moments, but after the first half hour, it becomes clear that Baena has run out of enough gags to warrant even the 90-minute length.

Unfolding in an austere nunnery, The Little Hours establishes its joke immediately. Our focus is on a clique of crass nuns led by Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) and rounded out by the inexperienced Sister Genevra (Kate Micucci) and the shamelessly romantic Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie). After the trio chase off the groundskeeper with an assault of expletives, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings in the servant Massetto (Dave Franco) after he’s fired from a nearby castle for sleeping with his master’s wife. The catch, though, is that he must pretend to be mute and never tell of his nefarious background. In the days of Boccaccio, the situation is rife for misunderstandings and miscommunications. For the lustful Alessandra, however, it hardly matters that Massetto doesn’t speak. Father Tommasso, for his part, carries on an affair with the Mother Superior, Marea (Molly Shannon). The hypocrisy of the story goes largely ignored, as redundant as it’s made by the sheer repetitiveness of these “holy” characters’ sinful behavior.

The Little Hours is a historical comedy in the vein of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Indeed, much of the humor stems from the mere use of colloquialisms and curse words in a 14th century setting—and by nuns, no less. This movie, however, pales in comparison to the Arthurian classic. The Holy Grail at least told the story of King Arthur, with heaps of comedic asides. But Baena cherry-picks tales from The Decameron with the sole intent to fill the script with horny scene after horny scene. Baena’s characters are so roughly drawn—nothing more than stereotypes—that their arcs are irrelevant, secondary to the lewd language and jokes. You would think if this concept were being turned into something longer than a short sketch that Baena would have made a concerted effort to develop the story, not just compound the taboo scenarios.

Despite the fact that the comedy doesn’t aim for more than the laughs elicited from medieval nuns saying fuck, The Little Hours boasts an unrivaled comedic cast. In addition to Plaza, Micucci, Brie and Reilly, Nick Offerman makes an appearance as the betrayed Lord Bruno, and Fred Armisen takes a brief turn as Bishop Bartolomeo, enumerating the sins of the convent inhabitants. But even these skilled comedians have difficulty fleshing out Baena’s story with sight gags. Neither the humor nor the sexual desire on display in The Little Hours is anything new, and perhaps by setting the movie in a medieval convent only emphasizes that fact, to its detriment.

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