Dir: Nisha Ganatra
Starring Emma Thompson, Mindy Kalling, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Amy Ryan
Emma Thompson is exceptional as Kathryn Newbury, a long-established late-night talk show host, facing obsolescence, until she gets rejuvenated by hiring a new, opinionated – and decidedly female – staff writer, to break up the boys’ club bullpen that are driving her show into the ground. In a neat meta moment, said writer is played by Kalling, who also wrote the screenplay.
As a woman facing losing her show, Thompson makes the most of her finest comic role in years, firing off Kalling’s smart dialogue as much as finding the deeper moments in the woman behind the façade, struggling with her ill husband (a superb Lithgow), her own sense of depression and her slowly eroding life. Kalling also excels as the catalyst that helps her reconsider and regroup.
The movie touches very clearly on modern-day feminism in the film/TV business, the post #MeToo movement and the complications that has thrown up in the industry. And whilst the behinds the scenes nature of the film may lack the edge of Larry Sanders or the sheer gag rate of 30 Rock, it still proves to be a very funny movie, anchored by a great central turn.
It verges into sentimental territory for sure, but Thompson – all smiles – gives it the teeth it needs to win.