Studio comedies are in a rut: In 2017, we had to contend with such junk as The House, Rough Night, and (shudder) CHIPS, to name a few. Fortunately, the independent world is as vibrant and vital as ever, offering up such excellent films like The Little Hours, written and directed by Jeff Baena. His star, producer, and real-life partner, Aubrey Plaza, has emerged as a strong comedic voice since her Parks and Recreation days, being behind both this and another bitingly satiric 2017 comedy, Ingrid Goes West. The Little Hours is the sunnier of the two, but it’s no less brazen. It frames a loose retelling of the sexually bold (for the time) 14th-century work The Decameron in a period-appropriate setting mixed with aggressively contemporary dialogue. The bawdy possibilities of three nuns (Plaza, Alison Brie, and Kate Micucci) running amok in a convent with a staff just as sacrilegious as themsevles are fully explored through the cast’s hilarious improvisations, and Baena keeps them from wearing out their welcome, as many Judd Apatow productions tend to do. The film’s satire and commitment to the period setting makes the whole production feel like if Monty Python made The Devils (1971) instead of Ken Russell, and even more impressive than that is the movie’s sweet, even heartwarming nature. If the cynical cookie-cutter bloat of studio comedies annoys you, give The Little Hours a try.
Availability: Amazon, iTunes