“Late Night” (Amazon)

Emma Thompson stars in a scene from the movie "Late Night." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Amazon Studios)

By Catholic News Service

Decidedly improbable and scattershot comedic elements give this film the look of something that had its dents hammered out in the editing room. Even so, it’s still an uplifting story, scripted by Mindy Kaling, briskly directed by Nasha Ganatra and partly based on Kaling’s own experiences as a TV scribe trying to get her voice heard in an all-white, all-male writers’ room.

Facing cancellation (by network head Amy Ryan) and replacement (by potty-mouthed comedian Ike Barinholtz), the veteran host (Emma Thompson) of the titular show takes Kaling’s character on as the single “diversity hire” in a cynical scheme to create a veneer of multiculturalism. The workplace in which the newcomer finds herself is not so much hostile as clueless, an old-boy network made up of figures beset by anxious tics and neuroses. She strives to freshen the program’s presentation, which works well until a sex scandal threatens to derail everyone’s career.

The gags are uneven, but there’s a sentimental, heartfelt moral lesson: TV, that most democratic and far-reaching of mediums, is better when a broad range of perspectives and experiences are included as input.

The film contains sexual and scatological references, occasional profanities, some rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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