Film Review: In a World...
I don’t know about you, but I think there is no better to way to experience a comedy film than in a jam-packed theatre (which in this case, was an outdoor one), alongside fellow audience members who are also in for the ride. Whether a comedy is successful or not can largely be determined by the reactions (or lack thereof) it elicits from its audience. Judging from the waves of collective chuckling that occurred throughout film’s 93-minute run time, I can confidently conclude that that In a World…, was indeed, a hoot.
Exploring the fascinating topic of Hollywood’s voice-over industry, In a World… marks the debut feature film of its talented writer-director-star Lake Bell (Childrens Hospital, How to Make it in America). From its opening credits – which is dedicated to real-life voiceover master, the late Don “Voice of God” LaFontaine (who actually coined the phrase “In a world…” we hear at the beginning of many movie trailers) – it is clear that In a World… is a passion project for Bell; she’s not just using the voiceover industry setting as a convenient gimmick. Bell plays Carol Solomon, an underachieving voice coach who aspires to succeed in the male-dominated profession of movie trailer voiceovers, much to the dismay of her father, Sam (played by Fred Melamed), who is a veteran voiceover performer himself.
The plot of the film is quite simple: Upon hearing the news that Hollywood is looking for the next movie trailer voice to fill the void left by LaFontaine’s death, Carol has to compete with his egoistical father and his protégé, voiceover rising star Gustav (played brilliantly by Bell's fellow Childrens Hospital co-star Ken Marino), in order to prove that she is a worthy enough to be utter the three most coveted words in the voiceover industry and be the new voice of movie trailers.
One of the main strengths of the film comes from Bell’s ambitious and sharply-written script. Not only does Bell imbue her characters with witty dialogue and funny one-liners, she manages expertly interweave them with equally hilarious slapstick; all while tackling weighty issues such as sexism, family dysfunction and infidelity.
However, while I admire the film’s attempt in juggling so many different elements simultaneously, some of those elements ultimately fell flat in execution. There is a dramatic subplot between Carol’s sister (played by SNL-alum Michaela Watkins) and her husband (Rob Corddry, another fellow Childrens Hospital co-star) that feels a little contrived, like it’s just going through the motions, which makes it seem jarring compared to the rest of the film.
Of course, the strong performances from the film’s talented, all-star cast of comedians elevated Bell’s script and brought the characters to life with their own comic sensibilities. Demetri Martin’s (Important Things with Demetri Martin, Flight of the Conchords) is hilariously awkward as Louis, Carol’s love interest, while Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), stand-up comic Tig Notaro, Stephanie Allynne (Comedy Bang! Bang!; Kroll Show) and Marino are fun to watch in their respective roles. Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) also make a cameo appearance as herself.
Armed with a clever script, a talented ensemble cast, and a subtle dose of feminist critique, In a World… is a charmingly whimsical satire that cements writer-director Lake Bell as a capable filmmaker - one with a creatively distinctive voice that needs to be heard.
3 ½ out of 5 Ron Swansons
Joondalup Pines, ECU: 4–9 March, 7.30pm, doors open 6.30pm
Orana Cinema, Albany: 18–20 March
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