In a World : “unfocused and erratic, but with an undeniable charm”

September 26, 2013

In a World
Grade: 87
Cast: Lake Bell, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, Michaela Watkins, Demetri Martin, Fred Melamed, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Eva Longoria
Director: Lake Bell
Rating: R, for language and sexual references
Running time: 93 minutes

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A little unfocused and erratic, but with an undeniable charm, Lake Bell’s writing and directing debut In a World is an ensemble romantic comedy set in the somewhat esoteric world of voice-over artists. Carol Solomon (Bell) is a struggling freelance vocal coach who works with the stars, seemingly forever in the shadow of her sleazy father, who uses the stage name Sam Sotto and is the undeniably next best trailer voicer after the legendary but deceased Don LaFontaine (the real-life voice-over king who made the title words famous anddied in 2008 after voicing more than 5,000 movie trailers).

Sotto has resisted his daughter’s efforts to follow in his footsteps; he believes she should stick to doing accents and that, for whatever reason, the universe has no real desire to hear a feminine voice intoning over the coming attractions. On the advice of his much younger girlfriend, he’s decided to support Carol by “not supporting her,” which sends her scuttling to her sister (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law (Rob Corddry) while Sam begins grooming a male protege (Ken Marino)for his voice-over kingdom. But a lucky accident soon puts Carol in position to challenge the male-dominated voice artist hierarchy.

Unfortunately, the premise is more promising than the execution delivers and while the large cast is likable, the center doesn’t really hold and we don’t really find out as much about the subculture as we might like. As a writer, Bell tends to bat at a thread fora whilebefore leaving it for another. Though all the elements set up nicely, the middle of the film drags as Bell embarks on a none-too-convincing romance with her father’s would-be heir and her sister’s marital problems become apparent.

Still, there’s a lot of promise here, and Bell’s script didn’t win the Sundance Film Festival’s screenwriting award for nothing. It won for little absurd but real-feeling moments such as when Carol tells her client EvaLongoria to “put the cork back” in her mouth and “work on those vowels.” But In a World feels less like a cohesive motion picture than an overlong pilot for a half-hour cable series.


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