Late Night Movie Review
(L-R): Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson star in director Nisha Ganatra’s comedy-drama, ‘Late Night.’

Title: ‘Late Night’

Director: Nisha Ganatra

Starring: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare and Amy Ryan

Becoming a celebrated pioneer who takes any means necessary to break down barriers isn’t always an easy journey; trailblazers often prevail, in fact, by not backing down from seemingly resolute challenges. Several of the most original voices of their generations are finally garnering the credit they truly deserve, both in front of, and behind, the camera of the new comedy-drama, ‘Late Night,’ which
Amazon Studios will release in New York and Los Angeles theaters theaters tomorrow, and then in nationwide theaters next Friday, June 14.

Mindy Kaling made her feature film writing debut with ‘Late Night,’ which unites the actress with fellow innovating performer, Emma Thompson, on screen. It also reconnects her with director Nisha Ganatra, who helmed an episode of her hit sitcom, ‘The Mindy Project.’ The movie successfully proves that there shouldn’t be just one woman working behind the scenes of entertainment projects, as the world prospers the most when diverse voices can be freely shared.

‘Late Night’ follows Katherine Newbury (Thompson), a comedic pioneer and legendary host on the late-night talk-show circuit. The comedienne appears to still be at the top of her game to the outside world, as she has a seemingly perfect marriage to her husband, Walter (John Lithgow), and is still winning awards for her series, which is the longest-running late-night talk-show in America. However, her life isn’t as perfect as it appears.

Katherine is forced to finally contend with the fact that her program has been plagued by low ratings for the past decade, so the new head of her network, Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan), wants to replace her with an up-and-coming comedian, Daniel Tennant (Ike Barinholtz), whose raunchy humor Katherine shuns. When she’s also accused of being a woman who hates women, the late-night talk-show host decides on a whim to hire Molly (Kaling) for the next season, despite her lack of experience in television. Molly, who wants to prove to her new co-workers that she’s not just a diversity hire, is also determined to not only help Katherine revitalize her show and career, but also spark even bigger changes in the industry.

‘Late Night’ is an invigorating and vital story that needs to be celebrated in the current era of the Time’s Up movement. Kaling infused an important message that women of all ages, ethnicities and wealth brackets are just as worthy as their male counterparts to achieve their personal and professional goals. Ganatra was the perfect fit to direct the writer’s empowering story, which is a contemporary revitalization of the still relevant messages that were featured in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ when it was released almost a decade-and-a-half ago. The filmmaking duo effortlessly proved that more women and minorities deserve to be heard in America’s current social landscape, both in the work force and amongst their peers during their personal time.

While at different places in their careers and social lives, Katherine and Molly’s journeys will surely leave audiences laughing, crying and feeling inspired while the unfold on screen. ‘Late Night’ inspires people, especially women, to pursue obstacles they didn’t previously think they could conquer, whether it’s defending their beliefs to their bosses or proving their voices should be heard to the world around them. The film is groundbreaking in the fact that no matter how difficult the course appears to be, women should support each other as they strive to achieve success.

Thompson effortlessly infuses a sense of stamina into the arc Kaling created for Katherine throughout the script. While the two-time Oscar-winning actress immediately puts on a stellar facade as the typical tough and fearless New York City business woman, that appearance slowly but surely unravels as Katherine is forced to face her reality. Since the world of entertainment and the way people interact with each other has considerably changed since she first launched her career 30 years ago, the talk-show host is determined to prove to the world that she hasn’t become obsolete, as she contends with an internal conflict of figuring out where she now belongs in the world of comedy.

The themes ‘Late Night’ explore are timely and important, as they explore the importance of people, especially women, remaining true to their values and dreams, no matter what obstacles they face. Ganatra brilliantly adapted Kaling’s script to the screen, and perfectly emphasized that no matter what people’s differences and flaws are, everyone deserves to succeed and be recognized. The two leading female characters teach other such important lessons as trusting their instincts and working hard to achieve their goals. The movie successfully fights back against such pressing issues in today’s society as white privilege, entitlement and limiting the authority of women in the workforce, while also championing the strengths of women and diverse voices.

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: B+

Overall: B+

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Director Nisha Ganatra's comedy-drama, 'Late Night'
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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