A new comedy called The Little Hours and set in 1349 is based on a book I read as a teenager: The Decameron.*1 That alone was enough to attract my attention. However, when actor Aubrey Plaza’s new film premiered at Sundance it was so well-loved as to get picked up by a significant movie distributor, in this case a subsidiary (specializing in distributing independent films) of a general movie-distribution subsidiary of AT&T. That, too, would have been sufficient to get my notice as a well-funded distribution campaign was sure to put pop-up ads in my browser windows as mainstream release gets closer.
But apparently Bill Donohue at the Catholic League (who was not in attendance at Sundance and thus hasn’t seen the movie unless he’s claiming the Catholic League stole a copy) wanted to make absolutely sure that I saw this movie-set-in-a-convent and based on a collection of short stories that is to medieval Italian literature what The Cantebury Tales is to medieval English literature. And so, without seeing this film about hiding out in a convent while on the run and encountering stereotype-defying nuns who (nonetheless?) are kind and generous with their shelter and the silly hijinks dreamed up by a medieval Italian Catholic that ensue, Donohue released a statement calling the movie “Trash. Pure Trash.”
While Conan O’Brien is no stranger to hosting actors & filmmakers, and Plaza’s past success on Parks & Recreation made her an attractive “get”, it was perhaps as much this Catholic League review that was responsible for his invitation to Plaza to appear on his show as it was the quality of Plaza’s comedy and the Sundance success of the film itself.
Aubrey Plaza was delightful on the show, and you can see the interview in a number of places around the internet. I’m sure NBC even has an official clip on their website. But in addition to showcasing her dry humor – sure to bode well for the film’s quality – the show also displayed a still of a new The Little Hours promotional poster that director Jeff Baena’s team created just after Donohue’s condemnation. This isn’t it, I couldn’t find a good still, but take a look anyway:
If you look carefully in the upper-right, they have the quote from Bill Donohue where favorable reviews are normally presented. If you can’t read it, the full quote states of The Little Hours that “It is trash. Pure trash.”
The new poster – apparently too new to be easily accessible in internet searches, has only one review quote – that quote from Donohue – and in much larger type.
When O’Brien asked Plaza why put out a promo poster with quoting a Catholic League denunciation of the film, Plaza responded that the movie team thought,
Let’s just be honest and tell people.
Catholic League, I am now guaranteed to see this movie. You have done your work well.
*1: Of course, I merely read it in translation. I’m sure that all of you have read the original medieval Italian version, but I’m not that nerdy. Really.