Reviewed by Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Screenwriter: Mindy Kaling
Cast: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, john Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, Amy Ryan
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Late Night deals with a subject matter familiar to women of a “certain age”: How do you reinvent yourself? How do you hold on to the job you have been doing for ten, twenty or thirty years without being told that your time is up, you have expired, you are finished or maybe fired?
Consider Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) who had been a Late-Night talk show host for thirty years, now being replaced by a young male stand-up comedian Daniel Tennant (Ike Barinholtz). Katherine has a bunch of script writers, whom she never met, nor does she care to know their names. With great reluctance she agrees to hire any new woman that would apply, just for the sake of diversity. Enter Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), a plump chemical plant efficiency expert of Indian descent, who lives with her aunt in Queens, NY. She is a bad dresser who is not shy about expressing her opinions. Molly, a fan of the show, has been watching it for years and has a list of its negative aspects. Katherine is not interested in criticism but wants fresh material for the show. Would Molly be the one to provide it? These two characters do not mix well but since this is a comedy they will eventually have to.
Late Night has a large cast topped by Emma Thompson, successfully portraying Katherine as a fifty-six-year old British snob, with manly short haircut, a self-possessed person who is unable to relate to her all-male writing staff. Mindy Kaling plays a sensitive Molly with all her insecurities and aspirations to reinvent herself and get out into the world of showbiz. John Lithgow appears in the thankless role of Walter Lovell, Katherine’s husband, a retired university professor now afflicted with neuropathy. Amy Ryan is Caroline Morton, in an underdeveloped role of Katherine’s boss, who is mostly concerned about ratings slippage. Denis O’hare is Brad, Katherine’s personal advisor. Max Casell, Hugh Dancy, John Early, Paul Walter Hauser and Reid Scott appear as show writers. Bill Maher and Jake Tapper from CNN play themselves in two short TV segments.
Director Nisha Ganatra keeps the plot moving along, with excellent verbal comic timing provided by Mindy Kaling’s screenplay. Showbiz costumes were beautifully designed for Emma Thompson by Mitchell Travers. Late Night was shot in New York City, with crisp cinematography by Matthew Clark.
102 minutes. Rated R © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer