"Late Night" Review

Updated on June 15, 2019
Logan Daniel Williamson profile image

Part-time Film Critic | Graduate Student at Columbia University

Source

Late Night is a workplace comedy featuring Mindy Kaling who wrote, co-produced and stars alongside Emma Thompson as a fading TV host known as Katherine Newberry.

I must admit that I wanted to like this and had moderately high expectations judging from the Rotten Tomatoes score. I appreciated the premise of the film set in an alternate universe where in the male-dominated late night comedy scene, a female comedian emerges and deconstructs the patriarchy. I am skeptical of forward-thinking films like this, because they can succumb to overt, on-the-nose humor. However, the rave reviews for this film after it premiered put those concerns to rest. Perhaps I should have trusted my initial instinct, because this movie was close to garbage.

I sympathize with the intent, and I even agree with the message. However, it took a heavy-handed approach to tackling its progressive themes, and it feels snobbish and imposing. Although it fancies itself as an insertion in the comedy genre, it knuckles under its own political messaging and becomes one of the most snide, humorless comedies I’ve ever seen.

Some of the most consequential story beats depend on a certain joke or bit being funny, but they all miss the mark and come to nothing. In fact, there is one stand-up comedy routine that starts off horribly, and suddenly there is a shift in audience response and everyone starts laughing hysterically. I never saw the poor quality of material in the beginning of the set elevate to a level that would trigger a collective positive response from an audience. I did not even crack a smile at the jokes let alone dissolve into laughter.

Also, one joke in particular in the first half of the movie is an important plot device that advances the narrative, and there is some shilly-shallying about whether it should be done on the show, because it is so "controversial." However, the joke is merely a variation of something that has been beaten to death by comedians and comedy writers all across the country, and it is both unoriginal and not funny.

The film continues to promote the idea that a person should be qualified to get hired on staff in the writers’ room and not just a white, college-educated male or a diversity hire. However, none of the employees in the movie had even a shred of competence or stroke of comedic genius, and they all seemed like they were hired on as a fluke. I had no idea why any of these guys were in comedy, and I probably would not even find them to be pleasant dinner guests.

None of the relationships in this movie felt believable or convincing, and there was no chemistry between any of the main characters. Sometimes the film would use two characters’ troubled relationship as a stepping stone in the narrative or as an important plot point. It always came off contrived, and the film never reaches a satisfying conclusion with any of them. Sometimes there are throwaway lines that stand substitute for good storytelling, and thusly there are scenes that attempt to pull at the heartstrings to no avail, because the moment wasn't earned.

The performances saved this movie from being a total disaster; although, the characterizations of them were not developed sufficiently to make them feel fleshed out with all of the attributes that comprise a human being. Emma Thompson, for example, plays an evil, estranged boss who has no idea who her own writers are and does not give a flying fig about any of them or their personal lives. However, near the end, she confesses something about herself and makes a choice with one of her employees that is supposed to salvage her character from being completely reprehensible and unlikeable, and it doesn't work or feel earned at all. Not only does she play a cliched character, but when they try to throw a scandal into the mix, the film collapses under the weight of its own ambitions.

Overall, this was a slug to sit through. The script was uninspired, the characters and their relational ties to one another were underdeveloped, and the comedy was cringeworthy. The acting was well enough for me not to walk out, and I appreciated the intent of the movie and what it was trying to satirize. Unfortunately, it was not near as scathing as the premise suggested, nor was it as good or effective as the Rotten Tomatoes score indicated.

Rating: 3/10

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Logan Daniel Williamson

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      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://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      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)
      Features
      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)
      Marketing
      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.
      Statistics
      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)