Late Night

In Cinemas Now

They're giving comedy a rewrite.

Emma Thompson stars as a late-night talk show host at risk of losing her long-running show in this comedy written by Mindy Kaling (The Office), who also co-stars as the show's new writer.

Legendary late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury's (Thompson) world is turned upside down when she hires her first female staff writer. Originally intended to address workplace diversity concerns, her decision backfires as the two women separated by culture and a generation are united by their love of comedy.

More com than rom, this late-night US TV-set version of The Devil Wears Prada swaps Meryl Streep for Emma Thompson, as acidic talk-show host Katherine Newbury, fiery diva and self-centred boss, her popularity and ratings on the wane. It co-stars—and is written by—The Office star Mindy Kaling as Molly Patel, an inexperienced “diversity hire” thrown into a writers’ room full of white men, but unafraid to speak her mind.

While it’s no quickfire gag-fest, the film delivers a fun, warm-hearted tale of friendship. Things falter in the protagonist’s pre-requisite romantic subplot, which Kaling thankfully keeps brief, and a final act intent on delivering the prerequisite, optimistic Hollywood happy ending. Nimbly directed by TV-comedy stalwart Nisha Ganatra, the plotting may be predictable, but it’s an unapologetically entertaining, knowingly post-feminist spin on a familiar tale, replacing righteous rage with subversive sniggers.

When it falters, the ace up its sleeve is Thompson, her wardrobe and hair ripped straight from Ellen DeGeneres, and her performance nailing every snub, sneer and insecurity, making her character more than just a quick, clichéd caricature of conceited celebrity.

Often funny, with top-tier supporting cast (including John Lithgow, Amy Ryan, Denis O’Hare and Hugh Dancy), it’s a surprisingly old-fashioned comedy of manners. Cleverly skewering the whims of pop culture, casual racism and systemic sexism with a big grin, Late Night keeps the audience on side, landing political points and punchlines with equal aplomb.

Hollywood Reporter

press

An amusing conventional comedy about two women's struggles in late night TV.

New York Times

press

The director Nisha Ganatra doesn't do much visually but she adroitly works around Kaling's stand-and-deliver acting and gives Thompson the room she needs to turn a cliché into a striking character.

The Guardian

press

While Late Night wants to be loved, instead it will have to settle for being liked.

TimeOut (New York)

press

It's telling that The Devil Wears Prada, the closest thematic comparison to Kaling's scenario, feels more fearless and timely, even though it's 13 years old.

Vanity Fair

press

It's such a thorough, and thoroughly winning, performance that I was left wondering why Emma Thompson hasn't been the star of every other movie for the last 25 years.

Variety (USA)

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With her declarative snap and ability to go for the jugular, Thompson truly seems like a born talk-show host. Even when she's just riffing, she grounds "Late Night" in something real.

Vulture

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What makes Late Night - otherwise a largely predictable story in a familiar mold - really pop is Kaling's script, which is at the blunter and frankly more exciting spectrum of what Kaling has proven herself to be capable of in her writing career thus far.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

Enough entertaining moments and on-point humour to make Late Night worth an evening out to see.