Nisha Ganatra’s Late Night is an amicable and light-hearted comedy that treads on formula but is lifted thanks to its perceptive writing and excellent turn by Emma Thompson. Ultimately, this is a film that die-hard fans of the comedy scene are more likely to appreciate, but its relevant content as a 2019 workplace comedy is sure to resonate with just about everyone. Late Night is an excellent look at many of the behind-the-scenes processes that come with producing a late night show, and Thompson as aging TV host Katherine Newbury is really phenomenal here. Mindy Kaling puts in fairly good work here as well, as newcomer Molly who tries to find her footing in a complicated industry. All in all, I found Late Night to be an interesting and intelligent look at a lucrative industry, but beyond that, the narrative lacks the heft to really make the film anything particularly special. The story is mostly slight and while Katherine Newbury boasts a good amount of depth as a character, there isn’t anything terribly memorable about the script here.
Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling in Late Night.
There is no denying, however, that Kaling’s writing is well-informed, and many of the scenes we see in the film are illuminating as to the type of work that goes on in the writers’ room of a major network late night TV show. Kaling imbues the script with a buoyant sense of humor and just enough depth in the characters to make them interesting. Thompson as Newbury is great in the film, and her performance and character are easily the grounding force and most essential parts of the film. Her cynical humor is a total riot – penned excellently by Kaling and delivered incredibly well by Thompson.
Mindy Kaling in Late Night.
Late Night isn’t necessarily an impressive feat but the smart, taut script and Thompson’s great performance make it a fairly passable watch that is a bit above a lot of typical modern comedy fare.