Movie Review - In a World

A movie about movie trailers sounds like an interesting one. A movie about performers who work mainly as voice-actors also sounds like an interesting one. In a World is a comedy that could have potentially been either or both. Writer-director Lake Bell does attempt to make her movie either or both, but, instead she crafts a quirky and quasi, romantic comedy that's anchored around a half-serious story about a single father and his two adult daughters.

Lake Bell also stars as Carol Solomon, a freelance vocal coach for Hollywood actors. Carol also does voice-over work when she can. She becomes interested when a Hollywood production decides to bring back voice-over narration in its movie trailer in the fashion popularized by the late Don La Fontaine. Fontaine's style was deep-voice and god-like, starting each piece of narration with the phrase, "In a world."

Carol's father is Sam Sotto, played by Fred Melamed. Sam is a veteran voice-over actor whose protégé is Gustav Warner, a tall, sexy, arrogant actor, played by Ken Marino. Gustav is interested in the same Fontaine-inspired job. A rivalry develops between Gustav and Carol, but it's funny to see Gustav be all sexy and arrogant because Marino is hilarious playing both those aspects up in this character.

Some good comedy also comes out of Melamed as Sam being so self-centered himself, so dismissive of his daughter and favoring Gustav and his career over his own flesh-and-blood. Even though there is enough of him in this movie to satisfy, I almost would have preferred more of Sam than what Bell gives us instead.

Bell fills time by depicting the marital troubles of Carol's sister named Dani, played by Michaela Watkins, and Dani's husband Moe, played by Rob Corddry. The problem is that none of it is funny and all of it is pointless. Basically, both Dani and Moe flirt with other people. Both find out about it and it threatens their marriage, but it is so inconsequential.

I see why Bell probably wanted to do this storyline with Carol's sister because it relates back to Carol and Sam's relationship. Nevertheless, the whole thing bored me. It provided good eye-candy on both sides. Dani flirts with a good-looking, Irish guy named Terry, played by Jason O'Mara, and Moe flirts with a perky, next-door neighbor with shower problems named Pippa, played by Talulah Riley.

Bell is a good writer. She crafts funny situations and even some funny and smart lines, including a Gatsby reference that I really appreciated. Making Carol a third wheel on her father's date was brilliant and hilarious. The character of Louis, played by Demetri Martin, is also equally brilliant and hilarious a creation. I loved every scene Martin was in and he stole almost all of those scenes. His pitch and "positive-roadblock" scene was one of the best scenes in the movie.

The Dani and Moe stuff just drags this movie down. Bell also has Carol be deeply fascinated with exotic voices or foreign accents. She doesn't appreciate girls with sexy baby voices. Her insistence that a person's voice, the sound of it, is an indication of intelligence is interesting. Obviously, a person's voice can shape another person's initial impression of you, but there seems to be no distinction articulated by her between tone and timber of a person's voice and that person's grammar and vocabulary.

Given her obsession with mimicking the Don La Fontaine voice, it's curious what feminists would say about a woman championing herself and other women lowering their voices to basically sound more like a man's voice rather than simply embracing a woman's voice, which is traditionally higher pitched.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language including some sexual references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.


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