Review: Late Night
Last weekend, there was a Late Night screening at The Landmark in Los Angeles with a cast Q & A session after. Late Night premiered at Sundance in Jan. 2019 to critical claim. It was an indie film with a well-known cast shot in 27 days. After Sundance, Amazon Studios acquired the film for $13 million.
Late Night starring Mindy Kaling (Ocean’s 8, The Mindy Project) and Emma Thompson (Much Ado About Nothing, Sense and Sensibility) was a personal story of Kaling’s own experiences as a comedy writer. Molly Patel (Kaling) stars as a Quality Control Analyst turned aspiring comedic writer. Molly’s journey began interviewing for her dream job, a comedy writer role for Late Night show legend Katherine Newbury (Thompson). Molly, long time fan of Newbury, was severely under qualified, yet got the role as they needed a “diversity hire” — an ethnic woman. Overjoyed with the news of getting the job, she failed to realize what was in store for her.
The movie continues to show an all-male writers room full of nepotism and “white privilege,” as reporters in the film later called out. Molly, aka “#8,” struggles to find her way as her blunt, analytical nature first rubs Newbury and colleagues the wrong way. Frustrated, she is determined to break down the barriers and become accepted by her colleagues alongside the ever so cold Newbury. The journey was hilarious and full of raw emotion. You see both main characters deal with their strengths, flaws and regrets in a relatable portrayal.
During the Question and Answer portion, Kaling was joined by Ike Barinholtz (MADtv, The Mindy Project) and Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman). Barinholtz and Hauser, both friends of Kaling had powerful statements about their friend and film. Barinholtz said when he first read the script he was taken aback by “how good of a script his friend wrote and didn’t want to tell her,” while Hauser said it brought him to tears a few times. While Kaling spoke she reflected on what made her write the film. She stated that this film was a very personal reflection of her own journey learning to write comedy and what it was like to “be the only woman writer of color in a room full of white men.” While Kaling spoke, she was beaming with a sense of pride. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get to ask her how she overcomes writer’s block — one of my own constant struggles.
In short, Kaling’s well-written film narrated perfect late nights, the struggles, the politics and wins that any level of a writer can appreciate.
Late Night is currently in select theaters in California and New York, with a Nationwide premiere June 14.