‘Late night’: a he-said, she-said film review
By Tom and Marilyn Jozwik
Published June 8, 2019
SHE: It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had seen “Late Night” before: It was called “The Devil Wears Prada,” starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. This time around it’s the talented Emma Thompson and the show’s writer-producer, Mindy Kaling. The movie takes on issues of the day, namely sexism and diversity in the marketplace (the director is a woman, Nisha Ganatra). It tells the story of a female host whose longtime late-night talk show has lost its appeal. The tough as nails star is in danger of losing her job. Fortunately Kaling has delivered plenty of comedy and not a preachy film. It is an entertaining 100 minutes capped by a satisfying ending.
HE: I saw “The Devil Wears Prada” too—in fact, I saw it with you. I’d have to agree Streep and Thompson play similar parts; but watching “Late Night,” I didn’t feel like I was watching “The Devil” all over again. Thompson is an excellent actress, Kaling a likable one and a gifted writer … but what affected me most about “Late Night” was the very moving performance of John Lithgow as Thompson’s professor husband. It was a pivotal, rather than a huge, role and I hope Oscar voters remember it when supporting actor nomination time comes around. Lithgow is totally convincing as an injured (in more ways than one) and self-effacing party whose pain is no match for his capability for love and forgiveness—an admirable character of a sort too seldom seen on the screen these days.
Characters’ (and institutional) problems are remedied a bit too easily, too incredibly, in “Late Night” and several of the characters are one-dimensional. Questions surface (like, who is the child Kaling’s character Molly occasionally hangs with—or is she a mere figment of Molly’s imagination?) and go unanswered. But then “Late Night” is a comedy, romanticism more than realism, and I thoroughly enjoyed the flick. A favorite scene, subtle and sweet, near movie’s end, identifies Kaling (late of TV’s “The Office”) as the love interest of a co-worker. Commendably, “Late Night” shows no bed-hopping. B+
SHE: Thompson and Kaling are a fine comic pairing, plus the writing is smart, not sophomoric. It’s just nice to see a comedy that doesn’t rely on crass, gross-out humor or slapstick. Teen and young adult audiences might not find “Late Night” as appealing as older audiences. I’d give it an A- .