Review: Late Night

Nisha Ganatra’s Late Night, written by and co-starring Mindy Kaling, is light-hearted and entertaining, but does not surprise the viewer in any way. The movie follows Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson), a legendary late-night talk show host who learns she may lose her long-running series and hires a female writer to shake things up. Despite having no experience, Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), an Indian-American efficiency expert at a chemical plant becomes their diversity hire and is determined to prove her worth. This unlikely duo, separated by culture and generation will have to work together if they want to save the show.  

The film is essentially The Devil Wears Prada, but less ambitious. Despite their difference in Rotten Tomato ratings, only the former will be remembered. As Late Night aims to tackle feminism and diversity in the workplace, it often forgets its goal. While the writers room is made up of a white boys club, there is not enough to suggest Molly’s appearance is the fundamental reason behind the shows sudden success. Her entire reputation is based on a political gag written for Katherine’s opening monologue, all other insight into her capabilities and intelligence are absent.

Late Night doesn’t connect the dots enough to understand why Katherine needs Molly and it feels strained because the material is not there. The script felt lacklustre and didn’t demonstrate Molly’s skills in a tangible way; the viewer is simply expected to know that she writes well, breaking the “show, don’t tell” technique in writing. If a film is about striving for comedic excellence then it needs to shine in the parts that matter, not everywhere but.

Additionally, focusing on secondary romance plots to prove that women can do it all, evidently took screen time away from scenes that could’ve been put towards building the big picture.

While the movie sometimes missed the mark, it thrived as a whole, with sharp one-liners and lots of heart. Most importantly, Late Night gets the conversation rolling on inequality in the workplace, a situation not uncommon to Kaling and her experience with being the only female writing staff on The Office’s team of eight. Criticism aside, the film is warmly enjoyable as it pokes fun at ageism, sexism and racism.