Clearly, wirter/director Jeff Baena spent a lot of time watching old Monty Python films; his latest film has the look, feel and silliness of the British comedy troupe. The only thing missing is John Cleese and Eric Idle.


But while Monthy Python featured the antics of a predominately male cast, Baena's "The Little Hours" reflects the influx of female comedians and effortlessly demonstrate their doesn't need to be a separation of sexes when it comes to comedy. (I'm looking at the "Hangover" series and "Bridesmaid" as well as "Barber Shop" and Beauty Parlor")


Casting team of Courtney Bright and Nicole Daniels (they also cast "The Beguiled") compiled the perfect collection of talent representing both male and female comedians. Baena does a great job blending and guiding the cast so that they play off each other perfectly, even when the story is not.

Dave Franco is Massetto, a peon working at the estate of medieval lord Bruno (Nick Offerman); under the nose of the lord, he is also boinking Bruno's horny wife Francesca (Lauren Weedman). Alas, due to Francesca's overactive libido, Massetto is caught and sentenced to what is described as a gruesome death. However, he escapes by easily outrunning the out-of-shape guards and is free and clear.


In the meantime nuns Alessandra (Alision Brie), Genervra (Kate Micucci) and Fernandra (Aubry Plaza) are getting on each others nerves at a nearby convent. Genvra is in everybody's business, Fernandra is just downright mean-spirited and Alessandra is waiting for her future husband to come and rescue her so that she can resolve her impatient loin. They are under Sister Marea (Molly Shannon) who is being led by Father Tommasso (John C Reilly).


The convent's main business, besides saving souls, is embroidered linens which Father Tommasso sells in town at market. It is during one of these trips to town that he encounters the escaped Massetto and offers him sanctuary at the convent. There was an opening because the nuns chased off the previous handiman Ilario (Paul Reiser) who kept looking and speaking to them.


As you can imagine, putting a nefarious gigolo in with a group of mischievous young nuns is not a good combination, even with the Tommasso's trumped up story that Massetto was a deaf-mute.


Things are exacerbated when Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen) pays a visit to go over the convent's financial well-being. How long can the truth be hidden, especially with the busybody Genevra peeking in on everyone? Who's doing what? More importantly who is doing whom?


The ensemble of comedians flip through the script effortlessly with great performances in even the minor roles. Plaza has the mean girl shtick down to a tee while Shannon and Reilly make the most of their screen time. Micucci is hilarious as the nosy Genevra and will remind you of Alice Pearce Mrs Gladys Kravitz from the 1960's Bewitched sitcom. Brie's Alessandra character never really impresses, but she doesn't detract from the comedy either.


Throughout the film you will notice obvious homage to the Monty Python medieval period pieces and the satirical homage to the Greek Nymphs Dancing around the fire is hilarious.


"The Little Hours" is the most genuinely funny film of the year so far. The writing and directing are spot on and the entire cast will have you rolling in the aisle with their irreverent look at a medieval convent.   -- GEOFF BURTON