Writer/director Jeff Baena’s irreverent reimagining of parts of Bocaccio’s 14th century fictional work “The Decameron,” complete with 21st century vernacular, is so bawdy it would make Monty Python blush. The humor, much of which is derived from the use of modern language in a 1347 setting, is almost non-stop and is sure to leave audience members leaving with huge, if slightly off-kilter, smiles on their faces.
Right from the start, when cussing nuns Ginerva (Kate Micucci) and Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza in an eye-rolling role she was born to play), verbally assault groundskeeper Lurco (Paul Weitz), you know that you are in for something completely different. Even under the watchful eyes of Sister Marea (Molly Shannon, who continues to have one of the most fascinating post-SNL film careers), the convent’s Mother Superior, and Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), these young women manage to get into as much trouble as the nuns in Ken Russell’s “The Devils.”
One of the sisters, Alessandra (Alison Brie), considers her time in the convent to be temporary, at least until her businessman father, Ilario (Paul Reiser) is able to find her a husband. Her father, on the other hand, would prefer that she stays put so he doesn’t have to pay a dowry.
In a nearby castle, run with an iron fist by the pompous and cuckolded Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman), his servant Massetto (Dave Franco) is carrying on with his wife Francesca (Lauren Weedman) right under his nose. Once Bruno’s suspicions are confirmed, he sends his guards after Massetto who manages to escape.
While on the run in the woods, Massetto comes to the aid of Fr. Tommasso. The priest offers to repay the runaway servant’s kindness by providing him with a place to stay and employment as a handyman, replacing Lurco who quit his job due to harassment by the nuns. There is one condition, however; Massetto must pretend to be deaf and mute.
The hot(!) Massetto’s presence on the convent grounds sets off a series of events that involve the breaking of vows, sexual misconduct, the consumption of sacramental wine for purposes other than communion, homosexuality, witchcraft, and fertility rituals, among other things. The arrival of Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen), who bears witness to some of the shenanigans at the convent, only adds to the hilarity. Be prepared to laugh and be shocked in equal measure. Rating: A-