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Jumbled, simplistic and disappointing, Late Night is a significant let down for anyone who enjoys the typically sharp humor of Mindy Kaling and the usual engaging acting of Emma Thompson. The plot of the film is paper-napkin thin, the chemistry between the main characters is implausible at best and the themes of the movie (such as they are) are ham-handed to the point of ridiculousness.
Thompson sleepwalks through the movie as Katherine Newbury, a long reigning late night talk show host who cares little about her staff and less about her audience. Much is made of the face that the character hates women (though the film goes out of its way to mention that many of the guests she books are, in fact, women) so, in the kind of plot requirement that only movies as bad as this one employs, a diversity hire is made. A woman is added to her all male writing room – any woman as it turns out, even one with no experience and no credentials.
Enter the usually charming Mindy Kaling (who also wrote the movie). To call her Molly Patel 2 dimensional is too kind a description. Unconvincing and uninvolving, Molly never connects with the audience and each attempt at adding depth to her comes off poorly.
The movie wants to be a cross between the excellent The Devil Wears Prada and the very good Morning Glory. Instead it comes off as a high schooler’s interpretation of what writing for and producing a late night talk show is. Throw in some overly simplistic ideas about the role of women in society and sexual politics and you have the makings of a disastrous misfire.
This is a shame. Not only are Thompson and Kaling wasted but a broader impact is made here. Society could use more movies written and directed by women with women in lead roles. Movies like Late Night are not going to aid in that cause.
LATE NIGHT receives ONE FAKE EMMY AWARD out of a possible FIVE