In Brief: A TV-sitcom-like movie with excellent performances that somehow manage to make it work.
Late Night is done in The Devil Wears Prada formula. It has an arrogant, egocentric, all-business boss who terrorizes her staff and a clever, sometimes fearless but effective underling who gains her trust.
Emma Thompson stars as the irascible Katherine Newberry. Until recently she’s been the nation’s top late night TV host. Not known for being all that nice to anyone, the comedian’s numbers are plummeting. The network boss wants her gone.
Newberry is determined to stay.
Late Night is written by The Office and The Mindy Project’s Mindy Kaling. She also does double-duty playing a woman who lands a job as one of Newberry’s writers. It’s a dream job — yes — but she’s also a staff token hired to make her boss look good. In typical sitcom manner, she ends up as — as you know she will — the writing team and Newberry’s most valuable player.
Though it looks a lot like a TV sitcom, the film has enough laughs, joy in spots and decent characters to make it worth a trip into all that TV-like goo. Mostly it works because of Thompson. All of the humor — and a tiny bit of drama — centers around her rock-solid performance.
To her credit, director Nisha Ganatra — mostly known for TV directing — and Kaling do a great job of casting. Chemistry is key in selling a sitcom-like movie and giving it life.
This one — like Prada — has it in spades.
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Stars: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Denis O’Hare, Max Casella, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Ryan
Mindy Kaling has written a charming chick flick made soooo much better by the excellent acting of Emma Thompson. Give this one a 3 1/2 on the Friday Flicks o to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.