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‘Late Night’: A relentlessly entertaining and engaging comedy


Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson in ‘Late Night.’ — video still

As superhero movies and Star Wars flicks continue to reign as the most popular entertainment to see on the big screen, it becomes increasingly harder for completely original stories to grab people’s attention. With Late Night, we have a great example of why we should be going out and supporting original stories. Not only is this movie a great commentary on diversity in the workplace, but it’s also got so much heart and personality.

Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is a legendary late night television host who finds out she is going to be replaced due to her low ratings. After hiring Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), everything Katherine believes starts to change as Molly helps turn her show into something great again.

Late Night plays very similarly to The Devil Wears Prada. I don’t say this in a bad way either — I absolutely adored that movie, and I believe the trope of “new girl trying to make it at a big time job” works well here, too. The biggest difference is that Molly stays true to who she is throughout the film, no matter what happens to her. I’m very excited that a character like Molly exists in a current movie because she is such a fantastic model for women to look up to.

Emma Thompson turns in an amazing performance here as Katherine, bringing so much wit and charisma to her character. Her husband, Walter (John Lithgow), is such a great pairing for her character because he’s a beacon of strength throughout the movie. Even though he has to deal with his own issues, he continues to do whatever it takes to be the best husband he can.

The biggest surprise for me was finding out that Mindy Kaling wrote the screenplay for this movie. I didn’t know she was a regular working writer (The Mindy Project, The Office, Champions), and this made my respect for her raise an extraordinary amount. The script of this movie is so smart and has a couple of twists and turns that kept me incredibly engaged.

Nisha Ganatra (Chutney Popcorn) directed this movie exceptionally, allowing it to do exactly what it needed to tell it’s story properly. Everything from the writer’s group dynamic to the many great character moments couldn’t be done without Nisha’s vision for the film.

I would really be reaching to come up with negatives for this movie. The only thing I wish is that Katherine Newbury had a real talk show. Late Night is seriously very good. I highly recommend you see this film in the cinema, as it is one of my favorites so far of 2019.


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Strengthen • Grow • Evolve is a collaborative campaign led by two Iowa City-based arts nonprofits, The Englert Theatre and FilmScene that seeks a major reinvestment to strengthen the arts through modern and historic venues, innovative programming, and new models of collaboration.

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Wed, Oct. 23, 2019

Hilton Garden Inn Iowa City Downtown University at 7:15 a.m. (program starts at 7:30 a.m.)

Keynote address by Dr. Melissa Shivers
Vice President for Student Life
University of Iowa

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2019 Award Honorees

Jesse Case
Elizabeth Bernal
Angie Jordan (South District Neighborhood Association)
Inside Out Reentry
Matthew Farrey
Kevin Sanders

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