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“In a World”

Susan Granger’s review of “In a World…” (Roadside Attractions)

 

Have you ever wondered about the people who make those tantalizing film trailers, portentously voicing, “In a world where…”? That’s what this movie’s about. Working as screenwriter, director, producer and star, multi-faceted Lake Bell peeks behind-the-curtain of Hollywood’s little known but highly competitive ‘voice-over’ profession.

Haplessly neurotic Carol Solomon (that’s Bell) is a dialect coach and aspiring voice-over artist whose ego-centric father, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), is one of the industry’s sonorous greats. Rather than encouraging Carol, pompous, chauvinistic Sam constantly demeans her efforts, telling her, “The industry does not crave a female sound.”  Instead, he serves as mentor to Gustav Werner (Ken Marino), an arrogant, up-and-coming protégé who, not realizing who she is, seduces Carol after an industry party at his mansion. Meanwhile, Carol’s encouraged by Louis (Demetri Martin), a nerdy post-production audio engineer who not only adores her but pushes big business her way. This all happens just as she’s forced to move out of her father’s apartment and crash on her older sister
(Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law’s (Rob Corddry) couch while they’re in the midst of a marital crisis. To complicate matters further, Carol, Sam and Gustav find themselves engaged in a toxic rivalry, vying to land the all-important trailer for a new movie franchise, “The Amazon Games,” which will enable them to utter the “In this world…” phrase made famous by the legendary baritone
Don LaFontaine, who died in 2008.

As writer, Lake Bell delivers a witty, sophisticated screenplay, tinged with satirical sexism, yet filled with smart, multi-faceted characters.  As director, her casting sense is astute, although her comedic pacing occasionally resembles that of a sitcom. As the charming, if self-involved protagonist, Bell takes particular delight in tweaking ditsy young women with squeaky voices. Eva Longoria gamely proves she’s a great sport in a self-parodying Cockney-accent scene, while Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Alexandra Holden and Geena Davis lend support.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “In a World…” is a savvy, screwball 7, a low-budget
feminist comedy gem.

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