FILM REVIEW: Late Night

HOST WITH THE MOST: Two-time Oscar-winner Emma Thompson stars as late-night TV host Katherine Newbury in the new comedy Late Night, rated M, in cinemas now.
HOST WITH THE MOST: Two-time Oscar-winner Emma Thompson stars as late-night TV host Katherine Newbury in the new comedy Late Night, rated M, in cinemas now.

Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson might not seem like the most obvious comedic partnership.

One is best known for her work on The Office and her own comedy show, while the other is an Oscar-winning actress and writer who's equally brilliant in drama and comedy roles.

But there's something about the Kaling/Thompson dynamic in their new film Late Night that's just innately watchable.

The film, written by Kaling herself, follows late-night TV stalwart Katherine Newbury (Thompson) as she must face the reality that her show is in decline - and has been for years.

Competing with viral sensations like Jimmy Fallon and James Corden, Newbury must embrace modern technology and sensibilities to remain relevant in the changing late-night TV landscape.

That's where Kaling's Molly Patel comes in.

Molly is an aspiring comedy writer who's hired to join Katherine's all-white, all-male staff as a diversity hire - despite her complete utter lack of experience or qualifications.

Well aware of her fortune in landing the coveted gig, Molly delivers one of the best lines in the film: "Just because I was lucky enough to get this job, doesn't mean I'm stupid enough to lose it!"

The film has a lot to say about various social issues prevailing at the moment.

Gender and racial bias/discrimination is explored quite heavily, along with ageism, double standards, mental health and more.

Late Night hits on a lot of really relevant points but doesn't come across as preachy - quite a feat.

However, there are perhaps too few genuine laughs for a comedy.

It's not like the film is unfunny - there are many one-liners and chuckle-worthy moments - but it's far from a laugh-fest.

The support cast is also excellent, featuring Scott Reid (Venom), Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), Denis O'Hare (True Blood), John Lithgow (Pet Sematary), Ike Barinholtz (Blockers), Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya) and Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone).

Kaling's script works hard to avoid stereotypes, giving most characters a sense of two-dimensionality that could've easily been lost in the hands of a less talented writer.

Rating: 6.5/10

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