Review: Late Night (2019)

This is a Mindy Kaling / Emma Thompson stan blog from now on.

When it comes to TV, there are three people I trust profusely: Tina Fey, Ryan Murphy and Mindy Kaling. Tell me that any one of these three are involved in a show in any way, shape or form, and I’ll watch the series from beginning to end. While my love for all three runs deep, I’ve always had an exceptionally soft spot for Kaling whom I’ve admired for as long as I can remember. As Kelly Kapoor she was one of my favourite characters on The Office (2005 – 2013), her show The Mindy Project (2012 – 2017) is legit in my top 10 favourite TV comedies, and her collections of essays are two of the funniest books you’ll ever read. Now with Late Night (2019), a screenplay written entirely by the actress, her writing has reached the big screen and guess what? She continues to be fabulously talented.

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 12.01.42 AM
Credit: imdb.com / Amazon Studios

In Late Night, veteran talk-show host Katherine Newbury is at risk of losing her show due to dwindling ratings and lack of social relevance. To imbue her show with fresh material, Katherine hires aspiring comedy writer Molly Patel to join her writer’s room which consists solely of white men. Together Katherine and Molly shake up late night television, while they each deal with struggles in their personal lives as well.

Late Night is a pleasant surprise. Not because I thought even for a second that it would be bad, but because the movie went places I never expected and it was a delight to watch. Longtime fans of Kaling know that her usual brand of comedy is brash, animated and to an extent, self-deprecating. With Late Night, Kaling diversifies her comedy portfolio and crafts a script that is satirical, quick-witted, and is as emotionally deep as it is charming. As expected, Kaling’s writing is phenomenal and delivers a story full of memorable and quotable characters that are so engaging, you’ll beg to spend at least another half hour with them. Oh hell, I could spend another full hour in the world Kaling has created. Kaling’s skill with a script solidifies herself as a modern-day Nora Ephron or perhaps, the next Emma Thompson. Speaking of…

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 12.02.02 AM
Credit: imdb.com / Amazon Studios

Kaling deserves all the praise in the world for writing Late Night, but there’s no denying that this movie belongs to Dame Emma Thompson. As Katherine, Thompson walks the line between being deliciously cruel and breathtakingly vulnerable, portraying a character that I can only describe as the stand-up comedian version of Miranda Priestly. By the way, not mad at the idea of some sort of comedy sketch where Katherine interviews Miranda and the two just throw shade each other.

Perfection from start to finish, one of the most entertaining aspects of Thompson’s performance is the way she grounds the movie with the emotional turmoil Katherine experiences. Late Night is very much a dramedy and thanks to Thompson, audiences are truly treated to the best of both genres. Simply put, Thompson is a fucking laugh-riot. Sharp, hysterical, and biting as hell, after seeing this movie the petition to give Emma Thompson her own late night talk-show begins now. Thompson’s incredible range is on full display in this movie as she portrays a very realistic character, something modern cinema doesn’t see much of. Katherine is a character who is neither kind nor wicked, but simply someone trying to figure out the messiness of their own life. Kinda familiar, huh? There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Thompson will be nominated for  a Golden Globe and my God, she certainly deserves it. She has the range!

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 12.03.25 AM
Credit: imdb.com / Amazon Studios

From the minute Kaling’s Molly struts down the street with nothing but a backpack and an optimistic smile, you cant help but fall in love with Late Night. Kaling’s stellar script coupled with Thompson’s masterful performance make for a one-two punch of cinematic excellence. It’s funny, but at times it’s obvious that Kaling wrote many of the movie’s best jokes for Thompson, ensuring that her leading lady got the material she deserves. Hey, if it takes reducing your own character to create the best character-driven story possible, than I’m on board. No to worry though. Kaling is still bubbly and talented as ever, as is the rest of the cast. Hugh Dancy, Max Casella, John Early and Reid Scott who make up some of Katherine’s writing staff are particular scene-stealers, each one giving Late Night an extra helping of lovableness, heart and hilarity. By the movie’s end, I can honestly say that I didn’t want to leave these characters. Engaging and realistic, if Amazon Studios hadn’t turned Late Night into a movie, I could easily see this being a successful mini-series.

Late Night is a scrappy underdog of a movie that is impossible not to root for. A movie I genuinely can’t say anything bad about, I encourage everyone to head out to theatres and support this smart, beautiful, touching story. Late Night may not exactly be the comedy you expect from Mindy Kaling, but damn it’s certainly the one we deserve. I mean, an uplifting comedy about working hard and trying something new? And Emma Thompson is there? Hell yes to all of this! This is the kind of movie we need more of.

Will you see Late Night? Do you love Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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