Netflix Review – You: A Show Worth Obsessing Over? (Spoiler-Free)

Lifetime’s brilliant and unsung show You goes to Netflix and it’s hard to stop watching it… even if you’re in the bushes.

SUMMARY

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is a bookstore manager who becomes attracted to a patron, an aspiring writer named Guinevere “Beck” Beck (Elizabeth Lail). He begins to follow her, stalking her, planning out methods by which he can become her boyfriend. This only covers episode one, but literally anything else about the show is a spoiler.

you - 1joe
She’s a writer, he’s a reader. It’s a match made from him following her home.

END SUMMARY

Like most of you, I didn’t hear about this show during its original run, but after hearing about it, I had to give it a try and dang, I would never have expected this level out of Lifetime. Granted, I don’t watch Lifetime, so maybe that’s on me.

The first positive of the show is that almost all of the characters are so much deeper than they originally appear. A lot of this is derived from the way in which we are introduced to them. At the beginning of the show, we almost exclusively see things from Joe’s viewpoint, complete with his narration. Joe is presented as a smart man, basically a Hannibal-Lector-esque predator, so we hardly question any of the conclusions and deductions he makes during the first few episodes… which makes it so much more interesting when we get more objective scenes where we find out that he isn’t as omniscient as he thinks and that the stereotypes he thinks that most of the supporting characters fit are not exactly what they turn out to be.

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Beck’s friends are so much more than they first appear.

Another positive is that they don’t exactly make Joe the enviable model of villain protagonist/anti-hero that we sometimes see in modern media, with guys wanting to be Don Draper (despite him being miserable for almost all of the series) or, more frighteningly, Dexter. Yes, some people, including some women, apparently, message Penn Badgley talking about how much they want to be, or be with, the character, but for the most part I think the show does go out of the way to make him undesirable. One way they do this is by making him the butt of many of the jokes in the show, ranging from him being massively wrong about his deductions to wildly overestimating some of his abilities and failing at a task he believes he’ll easily complete. It helps that Joe, while monstrous, still has positive traits, like when he is attempting to stop his neighbor from being abused by her boyfriend. By being able to hear his inner motivations, some of the things that he does are given grander, more heroic motivations… right until the show shifts to an objective point of view and we’re reminded that, oh, right, THIS GUY IS HORRIFYING.

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He’s literally a stalker and you almost like him.

The acting is spectacular, pretty much all around, with special credit going to the two leads and Luca Padovan who plays Joe’s young neighbor who is dealing with his mom’s horrible relationship and Natalie Paul who plays his babysitter. The cinematography and direction are both solid. The atmosphere that the show builds around Joe’s stalking conveys the darkness of the topic, while also putting in enough levity to make it tolerable.

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They have such great interplay.

The biggest positive, though, is that the show is almost impossible to predict. The writing is spectacular, but it really shines when the series alternates between playing things out how they would in real life and how they would in fiction. Sometimes, Joe succeeds only because the narrative allows him to pull off stunts that should be nearly impossible, but sometimes he fails at things because that’s what would happen in real life. The fact that you’re dealing simultaneously with both fiction and real logics keeps you on your toes. Additionally, the overall arc of the season doesn’t play out in the way that most stories of this kind do.

It helps that the show starts off narrated almost entirely from Joe’s perspective, before shifting to give us other viewpoints, allowing for a little bit of Rashomon-esque recontextualization of encounters, meaning that the narrative can suddenly change a character’s motivations while not invalidating the rest of their behaviors.

Overall, I was blown away by how much I ended up enjoying this series. I can’t wait for season 2. Give it a shot if you can handle a little darkness in your shows.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – The Last Laugh, or Nobody Else Will Work With Chevy: The Movie (Spoiler-Free)

Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase join forces to make a comedy film about aging and… it sort of works.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Al Hart (Chevy Chase) was a professional agent for 50 years, but is now being pressured into retiring by his granddaughter, Jeannie (Kate Micucci). While touring a retirement facility, he runs into his former client, Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfuss), who encourages him to take up residence. Buddy was a promising comedian who was given his big break on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but instead walked off and pursued a medical career and a family. Buddy is mostly content with retired life, but Al quickly grows upset with it, telling Buddy that they should do a comedy tour and get him on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to make up for his missed opportunity. Along the way, Al meets Doris Lovejoy (Andie MacDowell), a free-spirited woman with whom he forms a bond. Hi-Jinks ensue.

lastlaugh - 1cast
Guess which one has an Oscar? Hint: It’s the one who admitted to doing Poseidon for money.

END SUMMARY

So… it’s pretty much a well-established fact at this point that Chevy Chase is hilarious, but also an intolerable asshole. In fact, the latter has pretty much wrecked his career because it has so overshadowed the former. If you’ve seen the Vacation movies, Fletch, the first season of SNL, Caddyshack, Funny Farm, The Three Amigos, or Community, you’re probably aware that Chevy Chase can be hilarious. If you’ve ever seen or read anything about him, you know he’s an asshole. When he left Saturday Night Live after season 1, the rest of the cast cheered. When he came back to host, he got into a fist-fight with Bill Murray on set. When he met with Kevin Smith about reviving Fletch, he drove Smith completely insane. He had one of the most famously unfunny roasts of all time, because few people showed up and those that did hated him. He was kicked off of Community for making everyone miserable, though admittedly Dan Harmon is also famously difficult to work with. Last September, the Washington Post did a report about the fact that Chevy Chase wants to work, but can’t find anyone to tolerate him. 

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And Belushi was just a frenemy.

Well, good news, he found at least someone willing to put up with him long enough to film a buddy comedy. Surprisingly, that’s Richard Dreyfuss. More surprisingly, Dreyfuss is the one in the film that is a comedian. Even more surprisingly, Dreyfuss is the funnier one in the film. Not that Chase isn’t funny in some scenes, he is, but since Dreyfuss is doing the routines, he has a lot more chances to be funny. He also has the more emotional journey, having previously given up this career for a family and stability, but now having no close family or career left. It’s a great performance by a gifted actor about a man trying to take back the road not taken.

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His stand-up routines vary in quality, but I did think many were legitimately funny.

The biggest problem with the movie is that it doesn’t have much of a sense of urgency in anything that happens, which is something you do need on a road-trip comedy. Even when they do try to provide some level of it, the film just doesn’t ever feel like this really needs to be the “last” laugh, because they could just keep working at it. There is a great sequence in the film involving trying to actually get Buddy on the show and a dream sequence which does show Chase’s range, but other than that the performances are only pretty standard for the actors. Take that how you will.

Overall, I’d say that it’s only an okay movie and both of these guys have done way better. Give this one a shot if you’re a big fan of Dreyfuss, but otherwise maybe save it for when you’re old and have watched everything else.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Part 2

The second entry in Guillermo Del Toro’s world of Arcadia is a sci-fi series that has a lot of familiar feels.

SUMMARY

Princess Aja (Tatiana Maslany) and Prince Krel (Diego Luna) are the heirs to the throne of House Tarron, the ruling house of Akiridion-5. However, on the day of their coronation, a mad dictator named Val Morando (Alon Aboutboul) takes over the planet, resulting in Aja and Krel, and their “dog” Luug (Frank Welker), being carried away from the planet by their guardian, the great warrior Varvatos Vex (Nick f*cking Offerman). They manage to collect the greatly wounded bodies of their parents and put them in stasis as they head for the nearest planet that might provide safety, which happens to be Earth. After crash-landing in Arcadia, California, the ship’s computer (Glenn Close) cloaks the group by making Aja, Krel, and Varvatos look like humans and the ship look like a suburban home. The three must find a way to avoid the bounty hunters sent by Val Morando and fix the ship so that they can fix their parents and make it back home.

3Below - 1Cast.png
Nick Offerman voicing the oldest person on Earth is hilarious. 

END SUMMARY

This is the Sci-Fi to the Fantasy of Trollhunters, but, admittedly, it doesn’t create the worlds quite as well as the former did. While we are introduced to interesting alien species in the form of the bounty hunters and a few of Earth’s secret resident aliens, most of the actions take place in the city of Arcadia, populated by most of the same characters from Trollhunters. While those characters are, for the most part, great and some of them are expanded upon well, we only get a handful of new characters created for this show that get the same kind of care. We also don’t get much time in other locations, despite the fact that we are doing an alien-centric sci-fi show. That said, Arcadia is still pretty awesome and the characters are still very enjoyable, particularly when interacting with the abnormal behavior of the aliens.

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The android fake parents are a little reminiscent of Invader Zim… which is a good thing.

The biggest plus for me is Nick Offerman as Varvatos Vex. In the beginning, you’ll find his character annoying and overblown, because that’s what he’s supposed to be. By the end, though, you discover why he acts the way he does, and it retroactively makes everything seem so much more interesting and deeper than could have been predicted up front. That said, the main reason his character is even tolerable is that he’s played by Nick Offerman who is completely dedicated to his performance. Much like with Offerman’s Ron Swanson, this character’s exaggerated elements move from “tough to deal with” to “lovable” as time goes on.

3Below - 3Varvatos.jpg
The Cane-Fu is a bit much at times, but hey, it’s not often.

Aja and Krel’s journeys are a little cliche nowadays, because Aja is trying to avoid being a princess while Krel is more comfortable being a prince. I get that we are trying to make up for the fact that women were only allowed to be princesses in most of Western Fiction for pretty much all of history until very recently, but her method of refusing to take the throne is similar to how most modern female characters try to reject the archetype, which is now itself becoming an archetype. Fortunately, the show seems to realize that and, a few episodes in, she starts to break from the mold a little bit more in her pursuit of being a warrior. Krel, for the most part, is the tech genius who wants to both be normal at school and also get the parts of his life back that he enjoyed.

The crossovers with Trollhunters actually make for pretty good episodes, too. The season finale takes place at the same time as the series finale of that series, which makes for some interesting parallel action.

3Below - 4Crossover.jpg

The show’s humor definitely saves it at some points. The fish-out-of-water story of the aliens trying to blend in with humanity is pretty well done, but it’s better when combined with the goofy and somewhat off-kilter residents of Arcadia.

Overall, I look forward to seeing more of this series if there is more to see. If not, I look forward to seeing what Wizards does to tie the whole universe together.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Part 1

Guillermo Del Toro takes an imaginative crack at a kids show.

SUMMARY

Jim Lake Jr. (Anton Yelchin/Emile Hirsch) is a high-school outcast, because he’s the protagonist and that’s pretty much the only thing a teen protagonist can be since Peter Parker. One day, while biking to school with his friend Toby Domzalski (Charlie Saxton), he finds an amulet in what appears to be the remains of a shattered statue. Naturally, it turns out that it’s really a magical talisman left by Merlin (David Bradley) and the statue was actually the remains of its last wielder, the Troll Kanjigar (Tom Hiddleston/James Purefoy). Jim is gifted with the title of “Trollhunter,” the protector of all the good trolls and the slayer of evil ones. Jim is the first human to hold the title. It’s revealed that Jim’s hometown, Arcadia, is actually built on top of a portal to “Trollmarket,” a magical kingdom where Trolls live peacefully, for the most part. However, there is an evil troll named Gunmar (Clancy Brown) who, along with his son, Bular (Ron Perlman), is trying to take over the world. The only thing keeping both the troll and human worlds safe is Jim, along with Toby, his tutor Blinkous (Kelsey Grammer), his protector AAARRRGGHH (Fred Tatasciore), and Claire Nuñez (Lexi Medrano), a gifted martial artist and magically-inclined human.

Trollhunters - 1Cast.jpg
The gnome on the right is named “Chompsky.” Because that’s fun.

END SUMMARY

This show’s strength is world-building. Almost everything about the set-up is a cliche that we’ve seen a thousand times before, but the show uses the audience’s familiarity with the set-up to quickly start expanding its mythology and its setting. The recurring characters each become well fleshed-out and distinct as the show goes on. The locations are all interesting designs that each convey a lot more than any of the characters say, something that always gets credit from me. The villainous monsters-of-the-week, too, are usually very clever concepts or at least visually stimulating, ranging from hive-minded goblins who have amusing idiosyncrasies to mummy assassins.

trollhunters - 2bular
Oh, and big guy with swords. Gotta have swords.

The main strength of the show is that it’s not really “happy” like most kids shows from my youth. The good guys are good and the bad guys are, for the most part, bad, but we do get a lot of gray areas and the entire series constantly has a bittersweet tone. Everyone has to compromise for victory and the mark of the heroic characters is knowing when and where to make those compromises so that they don’t end up destroying the things that they were trying to preserve. The characters make mistakes, sometimes grave ones, when they try to make those calls, and they keep getting more and more consequences for their actions as the series progresses. The emotional growth of the characters is also a big part of the series, with everyone changing a great deal in order to deal with all of the events they go through.

Trollhunters - 3Gang.png
Also, the power of friendship is a big thing. 

The animation style is going to be divisive, but I thought it was actually pretty spectacular for a television series. The character designs are simple enough for ease of computer animation, but are all distinct enough that you never get anyone confused. Action sequences are, for the most part, very good for this kind of series. It takes a while for them to get more creative than slash and stab, but once it gets there, we start to get fairly inventive sequences.

Overall, this isn’t the best animated series for adults out there (BoJack Horseman exists), and it starts slow, but kids will like it and it does get better over time as you become more invested in the world that you’re watching. It also serves as the first chapter of Tales of Arcadia, which looks to be a very interesting meta-series, combining Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and whatever Wizards turns out to be.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Aggretsuko: The Only Anime To Nail Modern Life (Spoiler-Free)

It’s a Red Panda singing Death Metal. If you aren’t intrigued, please call a doctor.

SUMMARY (Spoiler Free)

Retsuko (Kaolip and Rarecho (Japan)/Erica Mendez and Jamison Boaz (Eng.)) is a 25-year-old red panda who works in the accounting department of a large company with her friends Fenneko, a fennec fox (Rina Inoue/Katelyn Gault) and Haida, a hyena (Shingo Kato/Ben Diskin). She is constantly beaten down by the monotony of the work, the harassment of her boss, Mr. Ton (Souta Arai/Josh Petersdorf), and the treachery of her senior accountant Tsubone (Maki Tsuruta/Debra Cardona). To cope with all of the stress in her life, Retsuko lets out her frustrations by going to karaoke and busting out Death Metal songs about her life. Most of the series is just her dealing with things like dating, meeting new friends, trying to lose weight, and trying to find a way out of her job.

Aggretsuko - 1Cast.png
Such adorable characters in such soul-crushing existences.

END SUMMARY

First of all, Red Pandas are the greatest animal on Earth and my strongest case for my belief in a higher power, as nothing that cute can possibly have evolved naturally (Note: This is a joke, I get how natural selection works). As such, it made sense that Sanrio, the company famous for making Hello Kitty, would eventually use them as the basis for one of their characters. However, I could never have believed that they would have come up with this series, which, while the characters are mostly adorable, is about as bleak and unforgiving as… reality, I guess.

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Behold, the greatest of all the Earth’s Creatures.

Retsuko’s public persona is unimpressive in almost every way. She makes a lot of mistakes at her job, she has social anxiety, she’s insecure, she isn’t good at dealing with her bosses or her co-workers, and that’s sort of what puts her in the situation we find her in at the beginning of the series. She’s become so unhappy that it actually starts to lead to her making bad decisions that end up getting her in even more trouble at work, but, like most people, she absolutely can’t afford to lose her job. I hope that this doesn’t resonate with any of you, dear readers, but this does seem to resemble many people I know… and am. She doesn’t really have any hope of promotion in the near future, particularly since the people being promoted aren’t necessarily the people who do the best work, but she doesn’t really have anything else she can do. Even if she looks for another job, it’s likely to be a similar position within another massive company that will have the same problems. The only people who seem to be avoiding it are people who have parents helping them up. Basically, she’s most people between the ages of 25 and 40.

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Including her living space. 

Retsuko’s only respite is that she secretly goes and sings Death Metal in an amazing voice and generally takes on the appearance of a demon while she does (becoming Aggressive Retsuko, or Aggretsuko). At first, she tries desperately to hide the fact that she does this, but as the series goes on, she becomes more open about it, particularly after she befriends Washimi (Komegumi Koiwasaki/Tara Platt) and Gori (Maki Tsuruta/G.K. Bowes), two high-powered women within the office. By the end of the series, she’s sung in front of almost everyone, although several people think they were just drunk and hallucinating Retsuko busting out super-loud metal. There are usually 1-2 songs per episode and they’re all pretty amazing, particularly the ones where Retsuko is complaining about her boss.

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CHOKE ON HER RAGE!!!!!

I do have to give them credit for how they made the animals representative (for the most part) of the characters. For example, Mr. Ton is a pig (because he’s a chauvinist), Fenneko is a fennec because she overhears everything like a fennec fox, Washimi is a secretary bird (she’s the head of secretarial), and Gori is a gorilla (because she’s head of marketing… guerilla marketing). I still haven’t figured out what, if any, meaning there are to some of the other animals, but I’m betting there’s some pun in Japanese.

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Destroying her pig boss.

This show is good in both Japanese and English, so don’t let people pressure you to only do subtitles.

Overall, I like the show, mostly because it’s just representative of the bleak nature of adulthood in the modern era. We spend all of our time working and most of us don’t even talk to people about the things that we love to do for fun because it might not be “socially acceptable.” Give it a shot sometime.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Lucifer Seasons 1-3: A Devil for the Sympathy

Once Upon A Time the Devil took a vacation.

SUMMARY

Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) is your typical Los Angeles nightclub owner, except inasmuch as he is the Biblical Devil, an angel cast out of heaven who previously reigned over the damned in Hell. He’s typically assisted by the demon Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) and opposed by his brother Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), who wants him to retake his position in Hell. One evening, a pop star whom he was attempting to help is gunned down in front of him. The investigating detective, Chloe Decker (Lauren German), surprises Lucifer by proving immune to his powers, intriguing him. He decides to become a civilian consultant to the LAPD in order to find out more about her and also to entertain himself.

Lucifer - 1Devil.jpg
I’m straight, but this is truth in advertising.

Along the way he picks up a therapist named Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris), a semi-rival in Decker’s ex husband Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), an unwanted mini-acolyte in Decker’s daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez), and an unlikely friend ally in the devout Catholic LAPD forensic scientist Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia).

lucifer - 2cast
Yeah, this is definitely a good looking cast.

END SUMMARY

The key to this show is the cast. The premise, while not boring, would get a little repetitive if everyone in it wasn’t just so damned charming, particularly Tom Ellis. Of course, his character is supposed to be superhumanly attractive and alluring, but it’s impressive how well he sells that. This version of the Devil is interesting because it’s a Devil who has just become bored with his role. It’s not quite the Lucifer of Paradise Lost, though it’s clear to see that Neil Gaiman drew a great deal of inspiration from Milton in creating this version of Satan. It’s that version several millennia down the line, realizing that reigning in Hell, while better than serving in Heaven, is still not that fulfilling. Also, I like that the show kept the comic version’s policy of never lying, since it both makes for hilarious scenes and also distinguishes him from the typical “Lord of Lies” image of Satan. The show never portrays Lucifer as outright evil in any way, he just has a different view of morality than most people.

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Ellis doesn’t resemble Bowie like comic Lucifer does, but… eh, see the first picture.

The rest of the cast is amazing and they all play off of each other perfectly. Some of my favorite episodes are when two of the characters that usually aren’t together are paired for a B-plot. It helps that the show does actually have the characters change over time as they interact with each other, something that they kind of needed after the relatively strict limitations they held during the first season.

The show’s sense of humor is one of the best features. Unlike most Urban Fantasies, the main character does not attempt to hide his supernatural existence at all, leading to amusing misunderstandings. Lucifer tells everyone he’s the Devil up front, but they all seem to think he’s talking metaphorically or that he’s just coping with some sort of past trauma. Granted, it turns out as the show goes on that Lucifer actually does consider his past to be a trauma, with his relationship with his father being integral to the character. It’s interesting to watch characters dissect the actions of a literally omnipotent and presumably omnibenevolent God (Neil Gaiman) from the perspective of the Devil, who is our sympathetic focal character. Most shows wouldn’t try this kind of thing and I’m happy the show plays it out.

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I mean, most people can’t make Satan likable, right Milton?

As the series goes on, the expansion of the mythology also helps keep it interesting, with Seasons 2 and 3 each having an added character that pretty much makes for the focus of the season’s arc.

Overall, I’m excited for the fourth and final season of the show, which was pretty much accomplished solely through the fan dedication to the series. I applaud Netflix for allowing shows to get their closure for the people that love them. If only they’d been around for that one series that had the spaceships

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – The Little Hours: A Modern Comedy About Medieval Nuns

A packed cast of comedians star in this film about life in a Fourteenth Century convent.

SUMMARY

It’s 1347 in Italy and a convent of nuns is being led by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly). The nuns, particularly the extremely angry Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), drive off the gardener and caretaker Lurco (Paul Weitz), forcing Father Tommasso to look for another one. At the same time, a servant named Massetto (Dave Franco) is kicked out of his position and ordered arrested by his master, Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman) for sleeping with his wife Francesca (Lauren Weedman). Massetto flees and runs into Tommasso, who has gotten drunk and lost the embroideries he was supposed to sell to fund the convent. Tommasso agrees to hide Massetto at the convent in exchange for being a gardener and pretending to be a deaf-mute.

LittleHours - 1Nuns.png
Wanna know what they’re doing? Nun-ya business. I don’t regret this joke.

Despite not being able to talk, Tommasso is soon befriended by Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie) who grows infatuated with him. One night, Sister Fernanda’s friend Marta (Jemima Kirke) appears and all of the nuns, including Alessandra, Fernanda, Sister Ginevra (Kate Micucci), and Mother Marea (Molly Shannon) get drunk while they’re being told that sex is amazing. Fernanda takes a drunken Ginevra back to her room for sex while Alessandra and Massetto start to get closer.

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Fernanda doesn’t quite get along with him. Or anyone.

At one point, Fernanda kidnaps Massetto and she and Marta have sex with him, seemingly confirming him as a viable candidate for something. Ginevra is upset by this, having fallen for Fernanda. Massetto and Alessandra begin getting physical, but get interrupted by one of the elders coming into the room. Soon, Fernanda again kidnaps Massetto, this time taking him to a coven of witches in the woods who prepare to sacrifice him for a fertility ritual. They’re stopped by Ginevra, who has consumed a bunch of drugs and shows up high, but Massetto reveals that he’s not a deaf-mute while escaping. The group is caught returning to the convent by the visiting Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen), who uncovers all of the secrets, including that Ginevra is Jewish and that Tommasso and Marea are having sex.

littlehours - 3knife
She’s not sure he’s getting her point. I do kind of apologize for this joke.

Massetto is sent back to Lord Bruno, but is rescued by Alessandra and the other nuns. They all escape together, passing Tommasso and Marea who have likewise fled, and everyone lives happily ever after, except Bruno’s wife who is probably dead.

END SUMMARY

This movie is the most bizarre concoction I’ve seen in a while. It’s an adaptation of one of the stories from the Decameron, specifically the first story of Day 3, albeit a very loose adaptation. In the original, Massetto is a man pretending to be a mute gardener for the purpose of, successfully, seducing the nuns. It turns out that they actually choose to take advantage of him, believing that a mute won’t ever tell anyone. Unfortunately, he underestimates their desires, resulting in him having to beg for help from sheer exhaustion. He ends up begging mercy from the Abbess, who ends up keeping him at the abbey as a steward so that he can continue to service the nuns until he’s very old. That particular story, told by Filostrato within the text, would likely have been a very bawdy comedy by the standards of 1353. My favorite line is: “Madam, I have heard say that one cock sufficeth unto half a score hens, but that half a score men can ill or hardly satisfy one woman; whereas needs must I serve nine, and to this I can no wise endure; nay, for that which I have done up to now, I am come to such a pass that I can do neither little nor much.” While that’s not exactly how the film plays out, you can definitely see the influence.

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Other stories might also be derived from this.

A lot of the quality in the film is the dialogue, most of which sounds like contemporary speech adapted into subject matter fit for the 1300s. It helps that everyone delivering the lines are all comic geniuses, but Jeff Baena, the writer/director/husband of Aubrey Plaza also does a good job of crafting anachronistic situations that are just farcical enough to work. Granted, a lot of the secret to the movie is that it is just 90 minutes. Any longer and the premise would completely have run out.

Every performance is great, but I do have to say that Fred Armisen’s inquisition scenes basically had me floored with his delivery and quips. If you don’t get into the movie, I’d recommend going ahead and fast-forwarding to that sequence just to enjoy 5 minutes of sheer madness.

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Overall, I liked this movie. Not loved, but liked for sure. What shocks me is that I hadn’t heard about it before now. Usually when something has a cast this good and I don’t hear about it, I have to assume that it was just that bad, but this actually got decent reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes the audience score isn’t great, but for a film like this that’s not surprising. It’s not going to be everyone’s taste, but if you like the people in it, you’ll probably enjoy it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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