Late Night (2019)

Written by co-star Mindy Kaling, this workplace comedy is extremely well-cast and directed, even though its characters aren’t particularly well developed. Kaling stars as a neophyte television writer working for a late night talk show hosted by Emma Thompson, but her character’s development is mostly comprised of Kaling’s established persona. We don’t find out a whole lot about her character so there’s the inescapable feeling that the movie is overly relying on Kaling’s established persona (curated from both “The Mindy Project” and “The Office”). Thompson’s acerbic host is similarly short-changed, with a lot of her development left up to expository dialogue from other characters, and it doesn’t help that she’s rather hard-edged. Luckily, Thompson is excellent in the role and adds a significant amount of density and cache to the narrative, which elevates the entire production. With a terrific supporting cast (which includes John Lithgow, Ike Barinholtz and John Early, among others) to boot, it’s the kind of perfectly pleasant and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny comedy that overcomes its structural mediocrity thanks to its bright, likable cast.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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