When servant, Massetto (Dave Franco), is caught having an affair with Francesca (Laura Weedman), the wife of his master, Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman), he is forced to flee rather than be put to death or tortured.
At the local convent, Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie) gets a visit from her father, Ilario (Paul Reiser). He tells her that the family is having difficulty raising the dowry and she will have to, much to her dismay, remain in the convent.
Alessandra meets up with Ginevra (Kate Micucci) and Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) and the three nuns walk the grounds. They come across the convent’s handyman, Lurco (Paul Weitz), and Fernanda, who had berated him earlier, takes umbrage at him looking at them.
The other two nuns join in, screaming abuse at the startled Lurco. They then go and attack him. Elsewhere, Father Tommasso (John C Reilly) and Sister Maria (Molly Shannon) are preparing items made at the convent for the Father to sell at the market.
When the nuns are praying, Lurco speaks to Tommasso. He resigns his position, as he cannot take the bullying and abuse from the nuns anymore. Tommasso tries to persuade him to hang on for a few days, but Lurco leaves.
A fleeing Massetto comes across a drunken Father Tommasso in the woods. Tommasso has lost the items he was meant to sell at the market, the only way in which the convent makes an income. Massetto helps him retrieve some of the items. He returns to the convent with Tommasso.
He tells the Father that he is in need of shelter. Tommasso tells him he can stay on at the convent if he will undertake the duties of Lurco. Massetto agrees. The nuns, Alessandra and Fernanda, come across Massetto the next day.
Fernanda confronts him for smiling at Alessandra. As she is threatening him with an axe, sister Maria, accompanied by Ginevra, stops her. She explains that Massetto is a deaf-mute and is replacing Lurco.
Later that day, Alessandra pours her heart out to Massetto in the toolshed, sister Maria had told her that all her work was stolen when Father Tommaso, as far as she knew, was attacked by bandits.
Outside of the toolshed, Ginevra has seen her go into the shed. Fernanda asks Ginevra why she is hiding in the woods. Ginevra tells her she saw Alessandra go into the shed.
Tommasso and Massetto drink at the end of the day, the Father is the only person who knows he can talk. The nuns have a late-night rendezvous of their own, Fernanda and a friend, Marta (Jemima Kirke) go to Alessandra’s dorm and the three start drinking and getting merry. Ginevra, who is a bit of a busybody and quite uptight, comes to complain about the noise.
Fernanda pulls her into the dorm and gets her drunk. Ginevra ends up in a lesbian tryst with Fernanda. The next day, Alesandra tries to seduce Massetto but is paused by the church bell.
Fernanda sees dirt under Alessandra’s fingernails and works out that she was with Massetto. Ginevra tries to talk to Fernanda about the night before, but Fernanda is not interested.
Fernanda goes to Marta to get her help to seduce Massetto. She gives her a potion made from herbs that she pours into her eyes. Ginevra confronts the two women. The next day, Massetto sneaks into Alessandra’s dorm. They are getting amorous, but Massetto gets startled by an old nun coming in and sitting down to sew.
Alexandra realises he can talk. Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen) has come to the convent to check proceedings. As sister Maria and Father Tommasso try to keep him from looking at the finances too closely, Ginevra comes into the office to raise concerns about Fernanda.
Ginevra makes a potion from the same roots, but instead of pouring it into her eyes, she ingests it. The potion has a hallucinogenic effect on her and she begins to act oddly. Alessandra confronts Massetto. Before she can get the full story, a wild Ginevra comes into the shed. She confesses to Massetto that not only does she prefer women, she is also Jewish.
Fernanda comes to the barn and takes Massetto away to the forest. Ginevra and Alessandra follow after them. In the forest, they see loads of other women, as well as Fernanda and Marta. They are witches. The women dance around a pyre naked. Ginevra, still feeling the effects of the root, joins them, dancing and screaming wildly.
Marta is trying to do a ritual that involves sacrificing Massetto. When she sees Ginevra going wild, she goes to stop her. Fernanda tries to complete the ritual and Alessandra stops her. Ginevra runs back to the convent and wakes everyone, telling them what is going on. Massetto confesses to being the instigator of problems at the convent.
Massetto is taken by Lord Bruno. Bruno tells him the is not going to kill him as he wants to torture him for a long time. The nuns, Alessandra especially, do not want Massetto to die. They decide to go and rescue him. Tommasso, who had been sent to a monastery, meets up with Sister Maria. They kiss. The end.
The Little Hours is supposedly a comedy. I have watched funnier boxing matches and I do not mean where the referee accidentally gets punched. I talking about brutal, bloody battles, where one of the fighters suffers a near-death experience. Still funnier than this film.
I watched the first 30 minutes of this film and then left it for a week, so distressed with the awfulness on show. Based on a book, The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio, I can only assume, having not read the book, that the book is amusing. The film most definitely is not.
Written for the screen by Jeff Baena, who also directs, I can only think he found the book hilarious. That or he is a mortal enemy of Boccaccio’s, hellbent on destroying his name and reputation.
Nothing in this film is funny. All the characters are underwritten, most of the performances are underwhelming. Even Plaza, a mainstay in Baena projects and in a relationship with him, barely acts, just snarling on the screen and relying on her snarky persona. Brie is pretty, which is pretty much the only requirement for the role.
Micucci is the only one who does any real work as the busybody Ginevra, being a constant irritation and, later in proceedings, going completely loony. Still, none of it is funny. The Little Hours is like a Carry On film without any of the humour. Worse, it is like a porn film with no porn.
The nuns spend the entire film in a perennial state of horniness, but there is very little in terms of double entendres or even sexual innuendo. All the efforts at humour in the script are one-toned, the conversational exchanges lacklustre and quip free.
The most amusing thing in the whole film is Lord Bruno’s guards, Paolo (Adam Pally) and Gregorio (Jon Gabrus), who make a feeble attempt to chase after Massetto in the begin of the film and are easily distracted towards the end of the film for his escape. They are in the film for less than 10 minutes. The film is 90 minutes long.