You know that feeling you get when you take your first bite of a delicious slice of pizza or your first gulp of an invigorating cocktail and you think, "I'm going to remember this"? That's how I felt after watching this film.
Written by and co-starring Mindy Kaling (Ocean's 8, 2018), Late Night is a swift, witty, and hopeful comedy that also manages to be insightful. Kaling plays a plucky aspiring comedy writer who gets hired on the writing staff of an established late night talk show. Emma Thompson (Beauty and the Beast, 2017) plays the prestigious host of the talk show (in slick pantsuits & fierce heels) and perfectly realizes her role as a cold, cantankerous, high-brow leader who's popularity is waning. Thompson's world-weary, blunt pessimism is balanced against Kaling's fresh, inexperienced optimism as Kaling's character learns the challenges of no workplace diversity, a demanding boss, modern sexism, and doubts in her talent.
The dialogue is so naturally and breezily written that nothing feels forced or manufactured. Everyone can relate to the discoveries and anxieties of starting a new job, and Late Night explores these things with a spirited attitude that is both joyfully buoyant and realistically grounded.
Late Night felt like a combination of the coming of age film, The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and the darker portrait of comedy, Punchline (1988) and offers a fun female story on showbiz, hard work, and workplace friendships. Far too often, comedy films feel mediocre or "run of the mill" partly because too many people making those films are uncomfortable including different or diverse voices. Mindy Kaling is a welcome antidote to this mediocrity. She reminds us that diversity is important, especially in sharing stories that are funny, authentic, and human. Audiences won't be walking away from Late Night wiping tears from their eyes, but they will definitely be walking away smiling.