Lake Bell directed, wrote, and stars in In a World…
In a world where all we payed attention to were box-office blockbusters and horror films, and independent films such as In a World… get pushed off to the side and viewed by virtually nobody, Lake Bell would be doing what exactly? Who is Lake Bell? Do any of you actually know of her? Yes, she is that actress who plays the funny best friend who steals all of the scenes she appears in; in all of those crappy romantic comedies like What Happens in Vegas. But we really don’t know her. In that world where indie flicks get pushed to the side, that is what Lake Bell would be relegated to. That is who she would be to all of us. But I am happy that I don’t live in horrible sounding world.
In a World… is about Carol (Lake Bell), a young-ish Don LaFontaine wannabe who has her life kind of uprooted when her super famous voice-over father (Fred Melamed) kicks her out of the house so he can live with his 20-something girlfriend. She is forced to live with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and her husband Moe (Rob Corddry). With this crappy situation, Carol is bound and determined to make her voice heard in the voice-over industry. Carol lands a couple decent gigs in the voice-over field. I refer to it as “voice-over” because voice actor could mean many different fields (movies, narration, video games, commercials, etc.); where Carol, in this movie, is focused on being a trailer voice-over. But she lands these jobs with the help of her friend Louis (Demetri Martin) who obviously has a crush on her. These jobs just happen to put her in the crossfire when she is competing against fellow voice-actor Gustav Warner (Ken Marino). And when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, it becomes every man or woman for themselves in a race to become the next voice-over icon.
The story sounds kind of silly, but it is original. Completely original. Believe that? Not a remake, sequel, or based off of any publication. That’s a rare find in movie nowadays. But, this is an independent movie and most indie movies are rather original. Sometimes I have issues with movies that try to tackle to many themes or genres at once. In a World… tries to be a family drama, a satire of Hollywood, a sweet and innocent romantic comedy; and all of that before dealing with the sexism issue at hand. Usually I would complain about tackling so many different things. But this movie tackles them all head-on and focuses enough time on each individual theme or genre to do them all really well. This movie is so well written, that almost all of the scenes just seem so natural. Lake Bell is a name to be watched out for. Not only does she impeccable comedic timing in her acting scenes; but the direction and the dialogue itself just makes this movie very cute, while also being laugh-out-loud funny and extremely natural.
Yes, this movie tackles a pretty serious issue. And that issue being sexism in the industry. It may not be like that in every entertainment industry but really think about it. When have you ever heard a woman’s voice on a trailer that wasn’t one of the actresses starring in the movie. You get a ton of male voice-actors to pull voice-over work in trailers and Don LaFontaine appeared in almost every movie trailer up until his death. He just had the voice for trailers. But, at least for me, I don’t remember ever hearing a woman’s voice on a trailer. And this movie tackles that issue but doesn’t get preachy at any point. Carol’s father is at the root of the issue. He is a mega-star when it comes to voice-over work. He is a legend who is wrapped up in his own ego. He is grounded in the belief that his own daughter has no chance of making into this predominantly male voice-over “club.” But we see Carol’s hard work in front of our eyes. She works as a dialect coach, helping numerous individuals work on various accents. We see her speak in many different voices, and they are all hilarious. She even gets to help Eva Longoria (in a small cameo) try and hone a Cockney accent. We also see her trying to record numerous different voices that she can have at her disposal to try and replicate.
This story, as a whole, is filled with the romance and the striving to become a professional “voice-over” actor. But it is told at the speed of an indie movie. They take their time and dwell on things that need to be dwelled upon. That is why we get the sad story through Carol’s sister Dani and her husband. And it all works. Because Carol is such a real and well-written character. She has her flaws, but we see that she cares deeply for her family and for striving in this mostly-male profession. It is kind of funny to me that this is the movie where Lake Bell shows us what she’s got. She has always played that secondary character that no one really cares about. So it is interesting for her to make a movie about the difficulties a woman faces in getting her voice heard in movies. The character of Carol could have just been another character who needs to find herself because she doesn’t truly believe in her talent as much as she should; but Lake Bell brings a lot more to that character. Like I previously stated, the writing is phenomenal but Bell brings a lot to the character in her acting as well. She takes this basic character and adds a lot of smarts and comedy to her. And it makes her an extremely charming character.
In a World… is a smart and hysterical movie filled with well written characters and dialogue. We see a couple of brief cameos that are nice to see. And we get small supporting roles from actors like Nick Offerman, who I am used to seeing do bigger roles in movies. And this is all effective. But the biggest positive statement I can say about this movie is how it deals with sexism in the industry as an issue. It is handled and dealt with in a very real, very funny, very smart, and very honest way. Here is a bit of spoilers for the end of the movie, but when Geena Davis appears in her little cameo, she blatantly tells Carol why she landed the big gig at the end. It wasn’t because she was the best for the part. She comes out and tells her that she got the part because she is a woman and that her voice could become this powerful message. It shows the nature of real life. The best person for the job doesn’t always win and recognizing the inequalities that certain individuals face on a day-to-day basis in their workplace is something I really appreciated in this movie. Not everyone has it as easy as others, and I loved that the film pointed that out and also showed us that sometimes those people can use a little help. I also really liked that the movie’s “kind-of-villain” wasn’t really treated as one. He was competition but the movie even went out of it’s way to show a different side to that character; one that can be appreciated. I loved the note this movie decided to end on and the amount of talent in Lake Bell is astonishing. She can act, she can write, she can direct…she can do it all. And I can’t wait to see more from her.
Lake Bell as Carol Solomon
Fred Melamed as Sam Sotto
Michaela Watkins as Dani Solomon
Ken Marino as Gustav Warner
Demetri Martin as Louis
Rob Corddry as Moe
Alexandra Holden as Jamie
Nick Offerman as Heners
Jason O’Mara as Mr. Pouncer
Geena Davis as Katherine Huling
Eva Longoria as Herself
Jeff Garlin as Himself
Cameron Diaz as Herself
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Lake Bell is super talented. She crafted together an extremely funny and good movie. She wrote, directed, and starred in this film. She rocked every aspect. The movie was written extremely well; being very smart, funny, and real. Her acting was spot on, bringing comedy and intelligence to a normally basic character. The behind the camera work was also very impressive.
+: A lot of supporting actors that did a lot with what they had in their characters. Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Nick Offerman, and Demetri Martin stand out.
+: Fred Melamed has the voice of a true “trailer-voice” actor. But his depiction of a star wrapped immensely in his own ego was extremely well done. He was unlikable for the majority of the movie, but that was the point and he worked wonders with the role.
+: The movie was consistently funny throughout, bringing myself to laughing hysterically on more than one occasion. From Lake Bell’s different accents all the way to the funny Karaoke near the end; the comedy in this film was really well done.
+: Has an actual message in the movie because it faced and dealt with a serious issue. But it was the handling of the issue that was the most impressive. Dealt with in an honest, smart, and sometime funny way; this movie really shows the true inequalities some people face and was handled realistically. Had a good message that was handled perfectly with the fantastic ending.
+: The serious story between Michaela Watkins’ and Rob Corddry’s characters was handled well. It wasn’t too melodramatic and it highlighted some of the best aspects of these characters. It showed how real and natural they are and Lake Bell added a lot to her character with the family dynamic included.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: Not all of the comedy bits landed as well as they probably had hoped. Even though most of the comedy landed well with me, there were some that did fall flat.