Movie review

Late Night

What fun this movie is! Perhaps an unrealistic premise — a long-time beloved FEMALE late-night TV host — and perhaps a contrivedly sunny ending, but not inconceivable, and so nicely hopeful and optimistic and friendly.

The setup pushes two very different women in each other’s path: the established, intellectual, private, and ruthless Katherine Newbury and the determined, buoyant naif Molly Patel. Katherine’s ratings are fading as times and tastes are passing her by; Molly is taking a long shot at making her dreams come true, leaping from factory QC to TV writer. And what should happen does happen: their interaction prods and pokes them to act with authenticity, passion, and grace.

The movie is all about being true to yourself, and eventually everyone — even the presumed villainess, the hard-edged network president, although not the charming, feckless Lothario whose actions drive the movie’s final conflict — reveals and revels in their best, true self. And that’s nice! We’re shown a situation where an outsider makes a difference by tackling preconceptions and prejudices head on. And everyone learns and grows, and isn’t that the way it should be?

There is so much the movie gets right and models so appealingly that it is almost churlish of me to point out one, to me glaring, weakness. And that is that this is a young person’s movie, even though the central character is close to, gasp, sixty, and her husband, played with quiet sympathy by John Lithgow, is even older, and suffering from early stage Parkinson’s — a disease I can’t recall ever seeing portrayed in a mass market movie. And here’s where I think the filmmakers’ youthful (and by that I mean prime of life as opposed to third act, to mix a metaphor) perspective clouds veracity. In the real world, with the odds stacked against you and an ill spouse backing you, I think 99.9 percent of professionals would take the universe’s hint and gracefully go where needed rather than tenaciously doing battle with the powers that be. A real-life Katherine would have chosen to spend golden years with her beloved husband rather than squander his remaining days and nights engaged in the relentless, fickle, faithless world of network TV.

That observation aside, I left heartened and happy. I liked that Molly wrote an essay to start her journey toward her dream job. I liked that the comedy writers turned out to be rather sweet and nonthreatening nerds and not toxically masculine snots. I liked the acknowledgment — from a surprising character — that people aren’t perfect and that to be friends and coexist, we must tolerate. I liked seeing St. Marks Theater in a movie. I liked pretty much everything Emma Thompson did.

We need movies like this: kind and upbeat. We need comedies that don’t rely on cruelty and snark, we need to see positive images of minorities and women in positions of power so this concept can be normalized and accepted, we need stories of redemption because hope is infectious.

4 thoughts on “Late Night”

  1. Hi, I tweaked the Elegy…

    Elegy for Alexandra

    In winter Northerners may turn to escape the frozen darkness,

    And leave for Southern climes in search of sun and brightness.

    A certain randomness guides their travels to points lesser known.

    They drift indifferently across the desert bereft,

    Finding themselves alone.

    Yet some turn South to face another kind of light,

    To travel with a purpose led by inspired sight.

    One you were, a sojourner for sustaining life on earth,

    To be with others and share our common search.

    A darkness descends

    Upon the noblest of our kin, lost among ill-fated brethren.

    Thirty-five times we toll the bell for Thee, Who continues this search in Eternity.

    Or, if time will not bend to an Ideal Will, leaves us the earthly task to fulfil.

    Michael Stanley-Jones Gigiri and Kitisuru, Nairobi

    14 of June 2019

    Get Outlook for Android


  2. Agree- this comedy is more about kindness than humor, and although I was anticipating much more of the latter (because Mindy Kaling is SO funny), I liked how the sweetness and strength of her character overcame all obstacles. A little shout-out to John Lithgow —those moments when he was onscreen were priceless! Must say I didn’t find the premise unrealistic, when you consider that daytime talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres earns $77 million a year and could make the transition to late-night tsh if she wanted to. Agree wholeheartedly with you: we need more movies that are “kind and upbeat”….and have Yeats quotes tucked in, to boot 🙂

  3. Yes – John Lithgow was amazing! A restrained and elegant performance. So glad you enjoyed this too; nice to have nice movies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s