Director: Nisha Ganatra
Release Date: June 14, 2019
Original comedies have had a rough time at the box office in 2019 despite rave reviews from critics. Films such as Longshot, Booksmart, and The Beach Bum have failed to make the big waves we’re used to seeing from blockbuster summer comedies. Each movie has its share of familiar faces and cult followings, but they haven’t appealed to the masses like we’re used to seeing. It seems as if the only thing we can count on is Diseny owning the box office with superhero and live-action remakes of our childhood films. After being purchased by Amazon Studios for $13 million at Sundance, Late Night hopes to be the comedy hit of the summer.
Late Night stars Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury, the first female late night talk show host on network television. She’s also the queen of this world as she’s been on the air for over 30 years collecting countless Emmy’s. When Newbury is accused as a woman who hates women, she decides to add female writer to her all-male staff to put these rumors to rest. New hire Molly Patel, played by the writer and producer Mindy Kaling, is out to prove her new colleagues wrong as they see her as a diversity hire. This all happens just days before Newbury and the writers are notified that, because of declining ratings, she will be replaced at the end of the season by the dollar store version of Dane Cook. The ultimate disrespect.
Mindy Kaling is best known for her work on The Office. Similarly to Late Night, she was a writer, producer and actor on the show, and it’s where she got her start. Late Night comes from her experiences in a male-dominated writing room of a prime time network TV show. The film has a lot to say about diversity in the workplace with age, gender, and class. It pokes fun at what we can imagine happens in an all-male office (the men use the women’s bathroom specifically for shitting because literally no women have worked there for years) while sending the message of how diversity can positively affect the workplace.
The comedy and drama complement each other, making for a pleasant watch. The characters are well thought out and our leads are charming. What else would you expect from one of the writers of The Office? Although the plot is original, it’s still a predictable narrative. You know when the ups and downs are coming and can figure that everything will be OK. It’s a feel-good movie that works well on almost all accounts.
In another year, one not dominated by streaming services and Disney live-action remakes, this is the type of film that would thrive at the box office. Unfortunately it landed in the No. 9 spot in its wide release last weekend, adding to the list of underperforming adult comedies that, despite positive critic responses, audiences don’t show out for. Where Late Night has an edge over these other films is that it is owned by Amazon, so if you don’t want to spend your time and money at a theater, it will be available for streaming in a few months.