By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Though this movie has two great lead actresses (Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling), I wasn’t exactly excited about reviewing this comedy about a nighttime talk show. I don’t know; maybe because I no longer have any genuine interest in modern late night talk shows, I felt that the concept was a bit hackneyed and tiresome. Well, I was actually pleasantly surprised. With these two talented leads and a solidly realized script and story, Late Night proved to be an absolute delight that criticizes the lack of female voices, and a lack of cultural diversity in modern television talk shows.
Emma Thompson stars as veteran television personality and former comedian Katherine Newberry. Though the late night talk show host has had a mostly successful run, her recent seasons haven’t been bringing in high ratings and large numbers when ot comes to viewership. Desperate to keep her show afloat, Newberry decides that it might be time for a woman to be included in her writing staff. Enter Molly Patel (Kaling) a factory worker, with an intelligent sense of humor who dreams of becoming a comedian. When Molly hears that Newberry is seeking new talent, she ambitiously applies for the job. Because she is a woman of color, Patel instantly gets the job, but must prove that she has the talent to save the failing talk show.
Written by Kaling and directed by Nisha Ganatra, Late Night is a smart, funny and refreshing delight. Not only does the movie offer some biting and truthful observations and criticism about the lack of gender equality and cultural diversity in television, it does so with some wonderfully written and executed comedy. Though not all of the humor and jokes hit their marks, enough do to make this movie quite amusing and entertaining. The comedy is well balanced by the more serious moments that tackle issues, highly relevant in entertainment today.
As talented as she is, it should go without saying that Emma Thompson performs superbly in her role and shows that she can do comedy as well as drama. Mindy Kaling gives a lovable and winning turn as an underdog artist trying to follow her dream. The movie also features great performances by Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Dennis O’Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan.
In this modern age where gender and cultural inequalities and double standards have come under fire, it is great to see a film that tackles these issues well and still manages to see some humor in the ridiculousness of it all. Obviously, Mindy Kaling can offer audiences some genuine insight on these matters and does so with this funny and entertaining film. It is a movie I must highly recommend even though it isn’t exactly one that begs to be seen theatrically.