"Late Night" (2019 release; 102 min.) brings the story of Katherine Newbury, host since 1991 of Tonight, a "the Tonight Show"-like talk show. As the movie opens, Newbury is introduced at an awards show for her umpteenth award. Then one day, one of her (all-male) writing staff asks for a raise and Newbury, incensed, fires him. Once again Newbury is pressed to diversify her staff, and in a flash Indian-American Molly Patel, who has zero TV writing experience, is hired... At this point we are 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this movie is directed by up-and-coming Indian-Canadian actress/director Nisha Ganatra and, more importantly, written by Mindy "The Mindy Project" Kaling, who also stars as Molly. The movie is very much self-aware, as it explores many hot buttons in today's society (the "diversity hire", being a woman in men-dominated fields, etc.) but it never does so in a preachy manner. In fact, I might even say that the movie goes the other direction altogether, with plenty of charm and positivity. The movie benefits tremendously from the easy interplay between Emma Thompson (as Newbury) and Kaling. In fact this may be a career-defining role for Emma Thompson, who is utterly brilliant as the aging and self-aware talk show host. Check out for an almost unrecognizable Amy Ryan (as Newbury's boss). John Lithgow makes the most of his smallish role as Newbury's life partner who suffers from Parkinson's. At some point Molly concludes that Newbury is "a little too old and a little too white", much to Newbury's immediate and loud chagrin, but you also feel confident that things will work out alright somehow. When the houselights came back on, I was astonished to see how quickly time had flown by during this movie. And that's always a good sign.
"Late Night" premiered at this year's Sundance film festival to great acclaim, and Amazon snapped up the US distribution right (for a record $13 mill. I might add). The movie went wide in June, and the opening weekend Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was PACKED, sold out down to the last seat. In this summer of never-ending dumber-and-dumb sequels, prequels, and franchises, "Late Night" feels like a breath of fresh air. If you like a good comedy that is intelligent and smart, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (unlikely at this point), on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.