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Amazon Movie Late Night: Bleck

Catholic-perspective review of comedy film Late Night starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling

I was really interested in watching the Mindy Kaling/Emma Thompson comedy Late Night, when I discovered that it’s now on Amazon Prime.

It’s a comedy, and it’s about TV comedy writers, so I thought for sure I would love it. 

Well, I didn’t. 

For a while into this movie, I thought I liked it at least. But it started to fall apart pretty quickly.

Late Night’s premise

It’s about the writers and host of a late-night talk show. Emma Thompson plays Katherine Newberry, a female late-night talk show host in her fifties. She’s well-loved and has had a great career, but she’s getting old. She’s on her way out, and she doesn’t like that one bit.

Mindy Kaling plays a big dreamer named Molly, who schemes her way into an interview for a writing job on the staff of Katherine Newberry’s show. Despite Molly having literally no professional writing experience, she is hired because she’s a female and people have complained that the staff is all men.

Apart from the mildly insulting nature of this premise for those of us who have put in years and years of work to try and get a film/TV writing career off the ground to no avail, this is all fine. It could happen. 

And then Molly starts work. And has no idea what she’s doing in her writers’ room. It’s all fairly fun and occasionally pretty funny. For a while.

And then it gets lame

A little over a third of the way through, my husband and I started saying to each other, “This is paced really strangely…” and “Why does this scene feel so choppy?” and “This actually isn’t written that well, is it?”

What are supposed to be jokes start to feel really forced, and I sat there wondering whether it was the acting? Or just the writing? Or maybe, I don’t know, too much agenda shoved into one movie?

The agenda of Late Night

From the start of this movie, it’s obvious there’s a bit of a pointed message in the whole premise of there being no women on the writing staff before Molly is hired. But from there, it gets kind of heavy-handed.

First and most grimace-inducing is the “abortion joke” that Molly writes for Katherine’s monologue. 

In a shameless plug for Planned Parenthood, she writes something about Republican senators trying to defund PP, how they’re obsessed with women’s sex lives because they themselves aren’t “getting laid,” and Katherine never thought she’d say this but she’s glad she’s going through menopause. 

Oh ha ha, so funny to trivialize baby death (and a horrendously scarring experience for women, to boot). 

That part is the worst of it, but there’s also a lot of on-the-nose discussion about diversity in the workplace, and how hiring a whole staff of people who “look the same” is intrinsically bad.

There’s also mention that Katherine never had kids (or friends either, though I find that less offensive…) because her career was “too important.”

And on top of this, the one character who seemed like a very wholesome, good-hearted person is revealed to have previously abandoned his wife and kids.

Fun stuff. 

Late Night is a mixed bag…

Though it’s rated R, there are no sex scenes and only some brief sexual references. There is profanity including the F-word, but it’s not extremely frequent. 

Unfortunately, Late Night’s lack of outrageously raunchy material for an R-rated comedy still doesn’t make up for its failings and heavy-handed liberal agenda. 

In my opinion, this one’s not worth the hour and forty minutes. Ironically enough, the talk show host in this movie likes to close her show with, “I hope I’ve earned the privilege of your time.” 

Yeah, that’s gonna be a great big no from me.

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