"Late Night" Movie Review

Updated on June 15, 2019
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Late Night
Late Night | Source

When Mindy Kaling joined the writing staff of The Office in 2004, she was the first woman and the only minority. What would have been a rewarding but intimidating situation for anyone has clearly stuck with Kaling, as it serves as the inspiration for her first feature film script. Late Night, which examines the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a popular (though dwindling) talk show, stars Emma Thompson as long-time host Katherine Newbury. Kaling co-stars as Molly, the first woman and only minority to join the show’s writing staff.

An intelligent and multi-layered dram-com, Late Night certainly has fun poking the bear of the all-white-male late night landscape, but aside from just taking potshots at the easy target, it takes the narrative a step further and actually makes a well-thought-out, smart case for itself. And though it eventually falls prey to some of the very tropes it seems on a mission to avoid, it’s not enough to detract from Late Night’s overall success.

The movie opens with Newbury celebrating 6,000 episodes and 27 years as the only female host in last night television. When she’s accused of falling out of touch with her audience (particularly women), she decides to hire a female to join the boys-club writer’s room. Enter Molly Patel, a long-time Newbury fan who moonlights as a stand-up comic when she’s not working in quality control at a chemical plant. Days after Molly’s hire, however, the network president (Amy Ryan) reveals that sagging ratings and viewer apathy have forced her hand—Newbury’s current season will be her last.

The long-time host decides to fight the decision, though, confident that she can turn things around and generate an uptick in ratings, making it impossible to fire her. Molly, very much on the outside looking in, meanwhile, slowly begins to ingratiate herself with the rest of the writing staff before leading the charge to save Newbury’s job.

The shell of the plot is fairly standard, to be sure, but what Kaling does with both the script and her performance, however, is turn the film into something truly special. Subplots abound, and though some come off as half-baked, most are nifty little gems that would have wound up on the cutting room floor of other movies. Newbury’s doting husband Walter (John LIthgow), for example, is starting to show the symptoms of his Parkinson’s; it’s a heavy storyline that would have dragged down lesser fare, but here it just adds another smart layer on top of an already exquisite little treat.

Thompson eats up the role of Katherine Newbury like she’s coming off a month-long fast, throwing her all into it and doing some of her best work in years. Kaling, who also produced the film, matches Thompson stride for stride, crafting something truly memorable in the process. It’s quite conceivable that Late Night will get lost in the summer noise at the cineplex, including the loud sis-boom-bah of Thompson’s other vehicle, Men In Black: International, which also arrives this weekend. If, however, you’re looking for a smart, fun and wholly entertaining change of pace, Late Night fits the bill while at the same time further securing Kaling’s standing as outsider no more.


4/5 stars

'Late Night' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)