LATE NIGHT – Review by Susan Granger

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Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is an acerbic TV talk-show host who, when one of her beleaguered writers asks for a raise, citing a new baby/family responsibilities, fires him on the spot, noting that – for years – the male ‘good provider’ role was used as an excuse for underpaying women.

Reminiscent of Meryl Streep’s imperious Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, Katherine unapologetically rides roughshod over her white/male staff until, suddenly, she demands that her producer (Denis O’Hare) hire a woman writer.

By pure coincidence, fresh-faced Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), who is of Indian descent, is sitting in front of his desk, applying for a job.

Thanking her lucky stars, optimistic Molly, who previously worked in a Pennsylvania chemical plant, reports for work the next day – only to discover she’s surrounded by disdainful, misogynistic men, particularly Tom (Reid Scott), the entitled monologue writer who refers to her as a “diversity hire.”

“Your earnestness can be very hard to be around,” condescending Katherine dryly tells Molly.

Problem is: although she’s reigned for nearly three decades, Katherine’s failing ratings could cause her imminent replacement by a hot, young comedy-club shock jock (Ike Barinholtz).

So it’s Molly’s ingenuity to the rescue, reminding Katherine that she’s “a little old and a little white” and she needs to change with the times, candidly stating her personal and political opinions – the more controversial the better.

Screenwriter/actress Mindy Kaling nails the savvy deconstruction of an ego-driven, talk show host (think David Letterman/Jack Paar), subtly exploring workplace issues of balance, sexism and ageism with director Nisha Ganatra (Girls, Transparent, Mr. Robot, and The Mindy Project).

Elegant, edgy Emma Thompson is outrageously hilarious, exuding ferocity and intelligence. In support, Mindy Kaling delivers an awkward, yet emotionally intense performance, along with empathetic John Lithgow as Katherine’s ailing ‘Professor Emeritus’ husband.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Late Night” is an entertaining, empowering 8. Seriously funny, it’s not your conventional comedy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Late Night is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for June 21, 2019

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.