THE LITTLE HOURS review

Well, hello to you too, random-ass movie.

So as I’m writing my initial impressions of this movie, I just saw the trailer a few seconds ago. It’s definitely one of those movies that’s a period piece, but with a modern sense of humor and way of talking. Kind of a wonder why this doesn’t take place in the modern day, but fine, whatever, middle ages with “fuck” as your main word, who am I to argue with what Hollywood wants to let get made. At a glance, the movie isn’t really that interesting, but some jokes do stand out in my head that make me laugh. In retrospect though, this is a raunchy comedy, and they don’t always agree with my sense of humor. But don’t knock it ’till you’ve seen it, right?

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dave Franco (NERVE [2016], UNFINISHED BUSINESS [2015], 21 JUMP STREET [2012], and upcoming animated film THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE [2017] and THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Alison Brie (GET HARD [2015], SCREAM [2011], Netflix TV show GLOW, and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Kate Micucci (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE [2017], DON’T THINK TWICE [2016], and TV show GARFUNKEL AND OATES), Aubrey Plaza (MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES [2016], TV shows LEGION and PARKS AND REC, and the upcoming film INGRID GOES WEST [2017]), who also produced this movie, and John C. Reilly (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], THE LOBSTER [2016], STEP BROTHERS [2008], and upcoming films the animated RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018] and HOLMES AND WATSON [2018]). In support, we have Fred Armisen (BAND AID [2017], THE SMURFS 2 [2013], TV show PORTLANDIA, and the upcoming LEGO NINJAGO), Molly Shannon (HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], SERENDIPITY [2001], and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS [2000]), and Nick Offerman (THE HERO [2017], MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI [2016], and TV show PARKS AND REC)

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Jeff Baena, known for I HEART HUCKABEES (2004). Composing the score is Dan Romer, known for BEASTS OF NO NATION (2015) and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012). Finally the cinematographer is Quyen Tran, known for a ton of short films.

Overall, I might enjoy this, I might not… I’m seeing this at a pretty damn expensive theater, so I’d really like to like it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE LITTLE HOURS

(SUMMARY)

Set in the Middle Ages. Massetto (Dave Franco) is a slave to Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman). He is also having an affair with his wife, to which the affair is discovered and Messetto is forced to flee the castle for his life. Soon after, he meets the kindly, but drunken Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly). He offers the young man a place of solace in his convent as a deaf and mute helper… which poses its own set of unique problems as Massetto learns that the convent is full of mentally and emotionally unstable, and sexually repressed nuns who take a liking to him.

(REVIEW)

DISCLAIMER: Apparently, this is a parody of “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio. But… as anyone who knows me really well, I haven’t the faintest idea of what that is, so… yeah, I can’t judge this movie as a parody. But I can judge it as a raunchy period comedy.

Yeah, it’s about what I expected. Raunchy for no reason other than for the sake of it. But as far as raunchy comedies go, this wasn’t awful.

I guess if you really think about it, the concept itself lends itself to some solid possibilities that the movie does admittedly utilize. Deaf and mute, young and attractive man in a convent full of sexually repressed women, it starts out and goes exactly where you might expect it to go. They start spilling their secrets and desires and eventually attempt to take advantage of Massetto’s “disabilities” and he being unable to say anything lest the truth come out and he gets sent back to his master for execution. There is a plot here with legit obstacles. I suppose the biggest problem is that this movie doesn’t really try to go all that far with its own ideas. It’s basically just sex jokes. Granted, there’s a witch joke that comes out of nowhere that’s mildly amusing, but that’s pretty much it. No one thought to themselves to really flesh out the conflict and opted for the bare minimum in both humor and plot.

The characters suffer in much the same way. The performances are… fine, for what it’s worth. Plaza’s signature deadpan “fuck you” line deliveries and Brie and Micucci’s highly expressive faces make you want to laugh at them, but they’re not given any good lines. Again, this script is composed of swearing, and swearing isn’t automatically funny. Yet, they’re characters are pretty well-defined. Alessandra doesn’t want to be a nun. She wants a normal life and to one day find romance. But she’s forced into this position because… her father donates a lot of money to the convent…? Hey, I said the characters were well-defined, not their backstories. And much of the plots central conflict comes from her inability to keep legs closed, desperation and opportunity set in when Massetto enters the picture. Fernanda is completely apathetic to the nun ways, often drinking and caring little about expressing herself sexually and Genevra is sexually confused, idolizing Fernanda and her certainty, developing feelings for her that become almost obsessive. All of this, it’s ripe with hilarious possibilities. To be fair, Genevra is probably the funniest character that you care most about, but even that gets pushed to the wayside depending how tolerable you are of her borderline cartoonish personality later on.

There are three characters that stand out. Franco as Massetto, Reilly as Father Tommasso, and Armisen as the Bishop. Franco’s dilemma certainly made for the most hilarious reactions, considering how disinterested he is in the psychotic women at first, but then sort of gives in to the novelty of fucking a nun. Good-natured, but hardly a saint in retrospect. Usually, I don’t like Reilly, mostly because I associated him as another unfunny Will Ferrell since the two used to work together a lot, but ever since he made a real name for himself out of Ferrell’s shadow, he’s been damn funny, or at the very least, enjoyable to watch. Him as the drunken Father Tommasso is no exception. And Armisen, though briefly appearing in the film, led to a pretty long string of hilarious scenes when the transgressions of the three women came to his knowledge. “Eating blood? Do you think I’ve ever written down ‘eating blood’ before? Where am I?” Yeah, the line is in the trailer, but that’s still not old.

Beyond that, the film isn’t all that much to write home about. I have a feeling this will pass over quite a few radars and it’s not hard to see why. Perhaps this movie will appeal to those who are more familiar with the source material it’s satirizing, but for me, it’s just a raunchy comedy. The acting is great, there’s some hilarious ideas, and impressively distinct characters that will definitely make this a more memorable comedy this year. But it uses foul language as its main source of comedy, which, unless you like that sort of thing, then you’ll find this movie’s comedy pretty scarce. It’s not bad, but it’s lack of clever comedy drags it down hard. I’m not upset that I saw it, in fact, some scenes I would love to revisit, but I don’t see myself sitting through this movie again. I can only recommend this to those who know the Boccaccio stories, or if you love raunchy comedies. Beyond that, I say, don’t spend your money on this at the theater. I recommend this as a light rental. Netflix, Redbox, any of those.

My honest rating for THE LITTLE HOURS: 3/5

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BAND AID review

Oh man, if I missed out on this movie, I would have been pissed.

So, a little bit of background. To my understanding, not only is movie Zoe Lister-Jones starring in this movie, but she’s also directing it. Her debut, no less. I first became a fan of Lister-Jones on the TV show WHITNEY, the critically panned an unpopular Whitney Cummings sitcom that only ran two seasons. Personally, I kind of liked the show mostly because of the female talent, which included Lister-Jones, whom I thought was hilarious. Today, she’s part of the much more popular sitcom LIFE IN PIECES among an ensemble cast. I wish I watched more of that show, but I’m here to say that this movie is arguably one of the more anticipated movies of the week for me. Why? Again, kind of a fan of Lister-Jones and had no idea that she had a directing bone in her body. Goes to show what I know, right?

Anyway, the story looks like it’s about this married couple who can’t seem to stop fighting. They go to counseling and they decide to go through unconventional means to repair their relationship by turning their fights into song lyrics. They start a band using that platform and get some help with a neighbor. I have to admit, there does seem to be a special charm about it and, in case I haven’t said it a million and one times, I’m really excited for this project.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we have Lister-Jones (TV shows LIFE IN PIECES, NEW GIRL, and WHITNEY), Adam Pally (MIDDLE SCHOOL [2016], DON’T THINK TWICE [2016], and TV show THE MINDY PROJECT), and Fred Armisen (TV shows UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, PORTLANDIA. and SNL, and the upcoming THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE [2017]). In support… and possible cameos, we have Brooklyn Decker (BATTLESHIP [2012], JUST GO WITH IT [2011], and TV show FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES), Jamie Chung (OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY [2016], SUCKER PUNCH [2011], and TV show ONCE UPON A TIME), Colin Hanks (ELVIS & NIXON [2016], THE HOUSE BUNNY [2008], and TV show LIFE IN PIECES), Retta (MIDDLE SCHOOL and TV show PARKS AND REC), and Chris D’Elia (TV shows UNDATEABLE and WHITNEY).

Now for the crew. Directing AND writing this movie (new information) is, of course, Lister-Jones, making her directorial debut (congrats, miss), but has written for movies before, including CONSUMED (2015), LOLA VERSUS (2012), and BREAKING UPWARDS (2009), none of which I’ve heard of. Composing the score is Lucius, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Finally, the cinematographer is Hillary Spera, known for a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of.

Overall, pretty excited with this one and really want to show support for Lister-Jones. Let’s see how she does as this triple threat.

This is my honest opinion of: BAND AID

(SUMMARY)

Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) are a married couple that can’t stop fighting. Even therapy doesn’t seem to quite help. But, in a last ditch effort to save their marriage, they decide to turn their fights into song lyrics, which leads them to starting a garage band.

(REVIEW)

This was about to be a “Quick Review” but I enjoyed this movie so much that I wanted to give it the full treatment.

This is almost this year’s SING STREET (2016). Okay, maybe the music isn’t quite as good, but this is one of the best romance dramedies of the year.

First of all, woman of the damn hour, Lister-Jones knocks it out of the park. I feel like nearly everything she did was pitch perfect. Every emotion was nailed. If a scene was meant to be funny, it was hilarious. If it was meant to be serious, it was thought-provoking, or tear-jerking, and feels absolutely raw and real, thanks in no small part to the wonderful chemistry between Lister-Jones and Pally. The opening scene alone has perfectly intertwined smart comedy and intense drama, all because of dirty dishes. I think one of my favorite aspects of this movie is that the depiction isn’t constantly the two of them acting bitter and resentful. There’s a scene with Anna at her god-son’s birthday party and she and Ben are miserable with all the kids that are crowded around them. They escape to a bathroom in the house and share a joint where the two of them are calm and collected around each other. There’s another scene where they’ve already started their garage band and before even coming up with a song, they’re already fighting. I feel like in a lesser film, as soon as the idea for turning the fights into music would instantly have them getting along and only have one or two minor fights thrown in that last two seconds. But it’s written in a way that even though they do connect on a bizarre level doing this, they do still find reasons to argue. It feels like a very realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional couple, but at no point did I want to see them break up.

Now for the music. While I doubt they’ll find themselves among the piles of Oscar considerations next year, I did enjoy it. They’re incredibly simple and not always well played, but they’re amusing and the lack of professional play-style is certainly part of the charm. To be fair, Lister-Jones and Pally aren’t bad singers and their voices do blend well together, especially Lister-Jones’ song at the end of the movie. Damn, woman. I hope a soundtrack of sorts comes out for this because I can see myself turning on their songs to pass the time when I’m walking to work.

I’d also be lying if I said the cameos didn’t tickle me a bit. Hanks is a douche who is obnoxious while he’s talking on his phone and D’Elia flirts with Anna. Hannah Simone from NEW GIRL as the best friend, Retta from PARKS AND REC as their therapist, Angelique Cabral making a pretty fun LIFE IN PIECES reunion of sorts, and Brooklyn Decker from FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES, it was a lot of fun to see these faces.

With all the praise that I can dish out about this film, I do have a couple of problems.

The movie does succumb to that lame cliché where the characters are finally happy and find some semblance of peace, but then at the end of the second act, something contrived happens to cause them to have a gargantuan explosion of an argument that ruins everything until it’s resolution at the end. Granted, I feel like this movie does that cliché a lot better and makes a little more sense than most movies do, but it’s still distracting that it exists within the story.

And I think Lister-Jones’ history on sitcoms shines through a little too obviously. What do I mean? Weird Dave (Fred Armisen). Don’t get me wrong, Armisen is funny, sometimes downright hilarious, and even has some pretty dramatic scenes of his own. But the majority of his presence on screen is a little too goofy and out of place. You have several scenes with Anna and Ben fighting. Some of that drama gets heavy, especially when the root of their fighting is realized, creating some of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film where Lister-Jones ought to be considered for an Oscar nom. But then you have scenes where Dave will stare off blankly into space before saying something that’s either random nonsense or just outright weird. A character like Dave would work in an over-the-top comedy like MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES (2016), but in a movie that deals with such harsh realities, it doesn’t fit into this story. Lister-Jones clearly knows comedy and drama, and proves that she can blend the two almost seamlessly, but this was a weird choice that I didn’t always agree with.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable film. Great comedy and drama, fantastic acting, enjoyable music, and a story that keeps you engaged and invested in the characters. Certainly not perfect, Lister-Jones can definitely improve in some areas, but this is a really good movie that I am so happy I got to see and hope to see more movies directed and written by her. It’s likely that most won’t be able to find this movie in theaters anymore, but if you get a chance to rent it, I highly recommend.

My honest rating for BAND AID: 4/5

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