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Movie Review

In 1991, Katherine Newbury won over audiences of all ages as the first female late-night talk show host in broadcast TV history. Funny, relevant and intelligent, Katherine was unbeatable in her day.

That was nearly 30 years ago. Times have changed. But Katherine hasn’t.

You see, Katherine’s talk show has been on a steady decline for years, unbeknownst to her. And it takes the head of the multi-media conglomerate to wake Katherine up: She must relate to a younger audience, or her show will be nixed.

No more of this all-white male staff stuff. Nope. Katherine’s team needs a makeover. And who could better represent that much-needed diversity than an Indian woman named Molly who’s worked at a chemical plant for years?

Unqualified and naive, Molly quickly realizes that to impress Katherine, she’ll need to speak her mind and think outside the box. Katherine infamously hates that kind of pushback. But she slowly realizes the secret to a thriving, late-night show requires embracing the talents of people who are very different than her.

Positive Elements

Molly is a hard worker with a lot of optimism to carry her through her long days. Katherine sometimes treats her terribly, including publicly embarrassing her. But Molly’s coworkers eventually come alongside her to encourage and affirm her talent. Finally, Molly learns how to stand up for herself and to set boundaries in her public and private life.

Katherine, for her part, is a determined, driven, talented woman whose success has also made her a domineering presence. When we first meet her, she’s a harsh, iron-fisted ruler of her media kingdom. Gradually, though, she learns to relate to her peers, to connect on an emotional level and to foster healthy relationships. Eventually, she apologizes to her coworkers, repairs her marriage and hires a more diverse staff.

Katherine also admits that she’s suffered from depression for years—but she does so in a way that connects to her audience and encourages others to open up about their own struggles.

Katherine’s husband, Walter, is her biggest fan. He is honest, forgiving, encouraging and always ready to help his wife figure out how to be a better show host.

Spiritual Content

We repeatedly hear a sarcastic reference to someone acting like “a white savior.” A man jokingly says his coworker has an “Indian spirit.”

Sexual Content

Katherine is slammed by the media when a past affair is uncovered. (We see a man attempt to seduce her.) Katherine’s husband admits to having left his ex-wife and children for her years before.

Molly falls for an attractive coworker who is also a notorious playboy. After she kisses him, but refuses further advances, he arrogantly assumes she’ll want to sleep with him in the future. We also hear about this man’s previous sexual escapades.

Sexual jokes include verbal references to losing one’s virginity, homosexuality, transgenderism, sexual arousal, male genitalia, nudity, breast implants, a lack of masculinity, menopause, menstruation, feminism, sexism, abortion, Planned Parenthood and the #MeToo movement. Men in Molly’s work environment use the women’s bathroom; we see them walk in multiple times. Two toy animals are placed together as if they’re having sex.

Women wear cleavage-baring tops and talk about wearing bikinis. A man sports an unbuttoned shirt. A couple kisses.

Violent Content

A male comedian jokes about “blowing up the Hamptons,” and another says he was gloriously “trampled at a club.” We hear that two men have died from cancer.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused nearly 15 times, occasionally paired with “d--n,.” Jesus’ name is abused five times. The f-word is heard nearly 30 times, and the s-word about 10 times. Other profanity includes one or two uses each of “a--,” “h---,” “son of a b--ch,” “d--n” and “d--mit.” The British vulgarities “wanker” and “bloody” are each used. Name calling includes “idiot,” “d--k head,” “douche,” “b--tard” and “p-ssy.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink hard liquor, wine and champagne. A man admits he’s run out of Xanax and says he smoked marijuana in college.

Katherine makes a lengthy, metaphorical joke about the behaviors of a drug addict. Some of her coworkers talk about partying. A mom encourages her adult daughter to go out and party with her friends.

Other Negative Elements

Katherine is (for a time) known as an inflexible, cold, distant woman by her audience (and coworkers). She demands that her staff dedicate their waking hours to her show, and she verbally abuses and degrades them when they don’t perform to her standards. Katherine later accuses a younger generation of being narcissistic.

Comedians and writers joke about defecating in inappropriate places. Other jokes involve subjects such as racial inequality, illegal immigration, xenophobia, schizophrenia, depression and death.

A father wonders if his daughters like him. Molly can be naive and jump to incorrect conclusions. She and her coworkers can be harsh toward one another.

Conclusion

Sitting through this film, I was immediately disappointed in its R-rating. Don’t get me wrong, the harsh language and sexual innuendo here merit the restrictive rating. But the movie could have done without both.

Whereas many R-rated films are filled with graphic visual content, this movie sticks mainly to crude langauge and jokes. That unnecessary and verbally risque content doesn’t do the film any favors.

That’s too bad. Because under the rubble of vulgarity here, Late Night makes some great points about hard work, dedication, equality and diversity, as well as the importance of faithfulness and friends. It even delivers a message to today’s media moguls about extending grace and forgiveness to those who have made mistakes.

Still, this dramedy’s commitment to its R-rated content will push it out of bounds for many who might otherwise have enjoyed it.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury; Mindy Kaling as Molly Patel; John Lithgow as Walter Lovell; Hugh Dancy as Charlie Fain; Reid Scott as Tom Campbell; Denis O’Hare as Brad; Max Casella as Burditt; Paul Walter Hauser as Mancuso; John Early as Reynolds; Luke Slattery as Hayes Campbell; Ike Barinholtz as Daniel Tennant; Marc Kudisch as Billy Kastner; Amy Ryan as Caroline Morton; Megalyn Echikunwoke as Robin; Blake DeLong as McCary; Jia Patel as Parvati; Seth Myers as Seth Myers; Annaleigh Ashford as Mimi Mismatch

Director

Nisha Ganatra ( )

Distributor

Amazon

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

June 7, 2019

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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