Late Night review: Pursuing a career in comedy is seriously funny business

Late Night movie from Amazon Studios via
Late Night movie from Amazon Studios via /

There’s nothing funny about pursuing a career in comedy, and no one knows this better than Mindy Kaling, which is what makes Late Night so real, woke, and hilarious.

Shut down all critics commenting Kaling’s Late Night is not witty “enough,” talk about tough to please! Kaling’s wins and fails in the comedy business are what make her script perfect. From Amazon Studios Late Night is comedy gold thanks in part to Emma Thompson, who sprinkles magic throughout with her performance as Katherine Newbury.

Currently there are no women hosts in the world of late night talk-shows, what gives? Thompson, as Katherine, tackles a reality where women struggle to keep up in the late-night scene. Katherine is determined, unapologetic, and full of sass. She gives off strong Devil Wears Prada vibes, and Molly (Mindy Kaling) arrives to bring her back down to Earth and keep her grounded.

Molly is a new writer on Katherine’s staff, and she comes with new ideas and criticism. It’s not all very welcome. Okay, none of it is, especially by Katherine, who rudely reminds Molly she was only hired after it was pointed out that there are no women on her staff. What’s better than a woman of color to make the show look good?

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It’s going to take a lot more than that to keep Molly down, though, and she quickly proves to be more than a diversity hire.

Molly’s motivated and packed with ideas, she insists Katherine change with the times and bring more personality to the camera.  At first, Katherine steers away from controversial issues, but she is left with no other options when her job as host is threatened by the network.

Unlike Katherine, however, Late Night doesn’t shy away from triggering topics. Sexual harassment, diversity, and even abortion is tackled — but ever so lightly! Kaling knows very well how not to come off in a negative way. Each joke or line about the topic is welcomed with a chuckle or moment of genuine laughter.

Late Night movie from Amazon Studios via
Late Night movie from Amazon Studios via /

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Late Night is near perfection, but the final act does bring it down a notch. The closing moments seem to come straight out of a “workplace training” video or a fantasy from our dreams with quick story resolutions and unbelievable diversity.

John Lithgow, who is always welcomed onto any screen, is part of a subplot as Katherine’s husband, but that story doesn’t truly ever find its place in the movie. I get what it was attempting to do, which I won’t spoil here, but it simply feels unnecessary.

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Nevertheless, Late Night is highly enjoyable, super sweet and proves once again how much of a treasure Emma Thompson is, as well as crowns Mindy Kaling as comedy queen.

Late Night is playing in select theaters, launching wide on Friday, June 14. 

The movie also stars Hugh Dancy, Max Casella, and Denis O’Hare. It is rated R for language throughout and some sexual references.