By: Movie Snurb (Three Beers) –
Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is the host of a late-night talk show and her ratings have been declining for about 10 years. She learns that her entire staff is white and male so she decides that they need some diversity. After a couple interviews Mollie (Mindy Kaling) shows up to get a job on her favorite late-night talk show. She has zero qualifications, but because she is a woman she is hired. Quickly Katherine learns that she’s being replaced with a young male comedian, so she turns to her writing staff to figure out how to save the show. Soon the staff and Katherine realize Mollie actually has some great ideas for the show and for Katherine herself.
Mindy is at her best in this film, perfectly portraying a fish out of water without a lot of the clichés. Mindy is very funny and all of her jokes land like the crack of a whip. Her timing couldn’t be better. And speaking of timing Emma Thompson is absolutely brilliant in this film. Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen all of Emma Thompson’s film, but I think I can safely say this is her best performance to date. She’s hilarious for so many reasons: for how mean she can be, for how out of touch she is, and for being just genuinely hilarious. Emma also brings a level of sincerity to the role; it feels like a vulnerable performance that Emma Thompson is so great at. It never feels forced or fake, you really begin to feel for Katherine. It’s a performance that should be an easy lock at the Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.
The great performances are helped by the well-written script. Mindy’s fish out of water story doesn’t feel tired and old because it puts a fresh spin on her situation. Using issues coming to a head in 2019 to bring to light those issue and using it as a back light for a story that we’ve seen before. It feels fresh and new. The writing also doesn’t turn Katherine into an over the top monster. Much like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (and yes I love that movie, but that character can feel very hammy), Katherine feels like a real human. She’s a believable character that has lost what she loved about her job in the first place. It’s a testament to the writing and acting that this film doesn’t become another generic story.
Even with all the great writing this movie is still predictable. Yeah, it is a feel-good story, but I wish I didn’t see everything coming.
The editing felt very weird; there were a few scenes that didn’t feel complete before the cutaway. Because of this the film felt rushed. I never thought I missed anything or that there were full scenes cut out, but it felt like they decided to trim everything away except the bare essentials to the story. I wish we could’ve had a little more character-building for the writing staff, which would have made us a little more concerned about the writers when the show is on the verge of cancellation. Maybe just another 15 minutes.
Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling deliver great performances and lead a great cast in a film that pokes fun at white male privilege in an astute manner. Sure, it’s predictable and a little rushed but Late Night is still worth your time.
Late Night (2019) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: every time Katherine fires someone.
Take a Drink: every time someone is put in their place.
Do a Shot: every time someone cries.
Take a Drink: for every predictable storyline.