Starring: Allison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon
Rated R for Graphic Nudity, Sexual Content and Language
I'm about to write off every movie that is mostly or entirely improvised. They're all awful. True, there are some actors and filmmakers who do well with improvisation, like Bill Murray, Christopher Guest and Mike Leigh. But they had a method to their madness. Bill Murray rewrites existing material. Christopher Guests starts with a concept and shoots hours and hours of footage and edits it all together in the end. Mike Leigh does the same thing, only he has his cast go through extensive preparation including actors' workshops and intense rehearsals. But I guess no one wants to take that amount of time and effort these days. They just pitch a concept, the studios cast bankable stars, and everyone jumps in front of the camera and shoots their mouth off. To expect this will result in something that works in any way, shape or form is just plain demented.
This movie has zero plot. It has a set-up, I guess, albeit one that would have trouble sustaining a five-minute long SNL skit. It involves a serf named Massetto (Franco) who needs to get out of dodge after he's caught diddling his lord's wife. He meets up with a drunken priest named Father Tommasso (Reilly) who promises him safekeeping in a nearby convent as long as he promises to pose as a deaf mute, since the sisters have a habit of driving the male workers away. Hilarity ensues. Allegedly.
This movie is like Seth Rogen doing "Masterpiece Theater." As bad a concept as that sounds, it's worse in execution. It's not the central idea that sucks, since the idea of a man pretending he can't hear or speak entering into a convent filled with some randy nuns has comic potential written all over it. But as is par for so-called "comedies" these days, this movie did not have a script. Even worse, writer/director Jeff Baena apparently used the first take of each shot. The performances and shot selection have such an amateurish feel that its evident that no one has the slightest clue as to what they're supposed to be doing. They're all trying to fill up dead air, and when there's a 30 second long debate over quiches, you know you're in trouble. Unless you're Quentin Tarantino.
The acting is awful. No one here is a newbie, which begs the question why they all look like deer caught in the headlights. Even able comedians like Aubrey Plaza (who is one of the producers), John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon are struggling. This is a movie that I suspect none of them will want to admit was on their resumes.
Naturally, the Catholic League is putting up a fit about this movie. But they whine whenever there is a religious official who isn't 100% perfect. Or even has the appearance of being flawed based on the concept (anyone remember "Dogma?"). While it's certainly not bawdy enough to provoke such a fuss to anyone who isn't a total snowflake, I can hardly blame them in this case.
If I saw a movie about gay men that was this bad, I'd complain too.