LATE NIGHT – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Early on in Late Night, the legendary yet ratings-challenged TV talk show host Katherine Newbury played by a never-better Emma Thompson receives a comedy honor – just one of many trophies she has been bestowed with over the years. Afterwards, she gripes to her ailing husband (John Lithgow) on the phone that her Spanx is cutting off her blood supply to her head. Similarly, this The Devil Wears Prada for joke writers, which smartly holds a mirror up to current concerns about diversity in the workplace along with gender and age discrimination, could use some editing Spanx to brighten up its pace.

That said, Thompson — who in her days at Cambridge University was part of a comedy troupe, Footlights, with the likes of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie – certainly knows how to deliver a zinger. She also brings out the best in difficult, complicated women as well (P.L. Travers comes to mind in Saving Mr. Banks). But the heart of this movie resides in its odd-couple pairing of Dame Emma with Mindy Kaling as the first female writer and person of color to be hired for the show. That Kaling wrote the screenplay and also is a producer on the film directed by Nisha Ganatra (TV’s Transparent) is an example of life imitating art in the best way possible.

When Thompson (let’s ignore the fact that she stole Meryl Streep’s ice-queen hair from Prada) and Kaling are together, the sparks fly. But all the boys-will-be-boys humor attached to the previously all-male writing team often smells a little stale and overdone. But is Late Night worth watching? Very much so, thanks primarily to the ladies, who include Amy Ryan’s no-nonsense network executive. Let’s just say it lives up to Newbury’s own show-ending catchphrase – it earns the privilege of your time.

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

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.