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Late Night

The workplace comedy starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling is now in theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 72

Late Night is a workplace comedy that feels like a cousin of The Devil Wears Prada; its greatest strength is its two lead characters, both of whom have adopted coping mechanisms while navigating a male-dominated field. Katherine Newbury (a pitch-perfect Emma Thompson) has been hosting a late-night comedy show on a major TV network for nearly three decades — something no woman has actually done in our world, incidentally — but is faced with the threat of being replaced by a hot-shot young comedian (Ike Barinholtz). Her writers’ room is stacked with white guys, some of whom were hired thanks to nepotism, and most of whom have never interacted with Katherine directly. In all her years as the show’s host, she’s never hired a female writer.

Katherine reacts defensively when someone points this out to her. And then she hires Molly (played by Late Night’s producer and writer, Mindy Kaling) as if to prove the point. That Katherine is a pioneering woman who seems to mistrust other women may feel familiar to some viewers; that Molly is insecure but sincere and scrappy may ring a bell, too. Late Night feels underwritten in some spots, but it’s surprising in others — an unfussy, entertaining comedy with some serious matters on its mind.