This flick about a late night talk show host, aging and cynical, who brings in fresh talent to backstop the show’s decline is good, but not as good as it could have been.
With all the right ingredients, including Emma Thompson as the cantankerous host, Mindy Kaling as her young “diversity hire” protege, and an eclectic supporting cast, this is an average comedy that could have been a runaway summer hit.
But Thompson’s charms aren’t enough to overcome a wrought script from Kaling, who attempts to be creative and relevant, but can’t transcend the serious issues she comments on.
From #MeToo, feminism, sexism in the workplace and the nature of racial equity hires, Kaling tackles it all in a hodgepodge script that also tries to send up the boy’s club culture of late night TV.
The problem, however, is that while everyone in front of the camera, from Thompson and Kaling to John Lithgow and Hugh Dancy all play their part, it’s a script that tries to be too smart for its own good that flails.
Thompson is great, but not as great as she could be. With roles like Meryl Streep’s in The Devil Wears Prada out there, we know what a terrifying boss can look like on-screen. Thompson doesn’t come close.
Kaling is smart, and incredibly funny in the right role, but here her character spends so much time feeling sorry for herself that it’s hard to actually root for her.
It’s neither funny enough to sustain itself as a comedy or dramatic enough to have enough heft. It’s not a great film and it’s by no means a bad one.
But for a film that could have had some serious bite, it barely manages to leave any lasting impressions.