FYI, I can’t stand Mindy Kaling as an actress. It’s not that I think she’s ugly or anything, I just can’t stand her high pitched whiny voice, her personality and demeanor, and that she plays basically the same character no matter which program she is on. That being said, I think she’s an incredible writer. She’s written some of the best episodes of the office, the best episodes of The Mindy Project, and LATE NIGHT is her first screenplay for a feature film, and I kind of loved it. It makes me look forward to her future projects for the big screen, and I will actively seek them out, unless she keeps acting in her writing projects. Unless she can change her acting style, I really would prefer that she took more of a role behind the scenes and less in front of the camera. Maybe even try her hand at directing, but definitely not direct herself.
Not only does her dialogue, story, and some unconventional little twists to her story make Late Night a nice bright spot in this June gloom summer month, but once again, Emma Thompson completely steals the show as late night host Katherine Newbury, who is about to lose her show even though she’s been on the air since forever, because the past decade her material and jokes have been stale and on auto pilot. No ‘umph’ whatsoever. To change this, she fires a male writer and asks that the show hire a female writer to spice things up. Kaling’s character, even though she works at a chemical factory plant, is the only woman that applies for the job so she just gets it. But with Katherine’s very uptight personality, things of course get off to a rocky start before they get better, and Kaling has a hard time adjusting to a writer’s room where she is the only woman, but once the two set aside their differences and work together, they just might be able to save the show.
Other than the acting from Thompson and the cute quippy dialogue, I actually liked the overall main story, even though in some parts I knew where it was going to go. However, Mindy Kaling threw me a couple of curve balls in several of the subplots that I didn’t see coming. There is one subplot with Katherine’s husband played by John Lithgow that I didn’t see coming, and he had one of the best speeches in the movie. And there is another minor subplot of Kaling getting a love interest in the movie whose conclusion I didn’t see coming as well. It’s the little unique changes in narratives in screenplays that I don’t see coming that I love coming out of movies. Mostly you get them in the big epic tent pole films, but these days, you kind of expect that. When they come out of these little workplace comedies, you end up appreciating them a lot more when they suddenly just show their faces every now and then. Next time though I would suggest to Mindy Kaling to not act in her own screenplays. They could’ve hired someone like Tessa Thompson (who stole the show in Men In Black International even though it sucked), or maybe even a complete no-name to fill in her role. If someone else had played Kaling’s part, I think the movie could’ve even been better than it was.
This review is going to be one of my shorter ones and end with this paragraph, because anything else I say would probably spoil the journey of the movie. What I really liked about the film is that it felt like everyone was working for and on a real late night talk show. There are a lot of movies that, with smaller budgets like these, make everything feel too fictional and visually under-bearing. When watching this film, I felt like ‘Tonight With Katherine Newbury’ had been on for years and I just couldn’t bring myself to ever sit down and watch another episode. And while the film was mostly a point and shoot affair, director Nisha Ganatra did a tremendous job with the performances and slight unique touches with framing at those big pivotal emotional scenes, that I would love to see more projects from her in the future. And Emma Thompson, I’m glad when I looked her up she’s won not only a Oscar for acting but for writing. She is one of the best actresses of this generation. Late Night is just a good time at the movies. And in the summer month of June Gloom, it is nice to have a little savior film to get you out of inevitable doom.