RELEASE DATE: 03/04/2014
RUN TIME: 1HR 33MIN
Carol (Lake Bell) is the daughter of acclaimed trailer voice-over artist Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed). Stuck in an unfulfilling voice coaching job, she dreams of following in her father's footsteps, even though he assures her that no woman can possibly make it in the trailer voice-over industry. However, an unexpected opportunity with sound designer Louis (Demetri Martin) makes Carol the most sought-after trailer voice in town, and she has to compete with her own father and young hotshot Gustav Warren (Ken Marino) for the top trailer gig for a new tween-pitched trilogy, the one that will resurrect that most sacred of trailer phrases, ‘In a world…’
The erratic and goofy qualities that make Bell such an endearing comic personality are woven into every moment of ‘In A World…’, and often to its betterment. It might not be the most accomplished piece of filmmaking, but this is a debut film for an artist - and a very talented one at that - and Bell attacks the challenge with panache and spark as the film's star, writer, director and producer. The joy is in the script and the performances, and the film is wisely geared to make the most of this. It can feel a little long at times, especially with so many subplots running underneath Carol’s story, but they never feel extraneous or unnecessary. It’s more a matter of rhythm and tempo, which bodes very well for her future work.
The world we inhabit is that of the backstreets of Los Angeles, the dingy sound studios in the suburbs and the bizarre celebrity underworld run by men obsessed with the preservation of their voices. Carol sticks out like a sore thumb and she knows it, and it’s wonderful to see this driven and spunky young woman asserting herself in an industry where she isn’t wanted based on established gender prejudices. The screenplay is hilarious and intelligent, but there is an ever-present sinister undertone running underneath, a comment on the dangers inherent for a woman in a male-dominated workplace. That said, it remains subtext until the final moments of the film, and our journey to this understanding is a breezy one, bolstered by killer one-liners and the tremendous skill of the cast and their leader.
The erratic and goofy qualities that make Bell such an endearing comic personality are woven into every moment of ‘In A World...’
Bell is an absolute delight as Carol, demonstrating an ease with her material that recalls Zoe Kazan in her debut film ‘Ruby Sparks’ (2012). She’s an odd creature with pixie looks and a wickedly cynical manner, but she also knows when to turn the humour off and allow us to engage with Carol at her more personal and difficult moments. Fred Melamed is wonderfully vile as her father, a man who will always put his career and personal happiness ahead of his daughters. Ken Marino and Demetri Martin are also terrific as Carol’s love interests, and Rob Corddry shines as Carol’s genuine but lost brother-in-law Moe. However, the women around Carol are what really make the supporting cast work, with Michaela Watkins as her fierce sister Dani and Alexandra Holden as her blonde-bimbo stepmother Jamie, who turns out to be far from the bimbo they assume she is. This is a film about women created by women, and such a fiery examination of what it is to be a woman working in the world but without the weight of tragedy comes as a refreshing and altogether more powerful experience.
In its final act, ‘In A World…’ takes a moment and delivers an unexpected and jolting punch, a statement that actually made me do a double-take at how ballsy it was. In the midst of her wacky little fable, Lake Bell hasn’t forgotten the power that comedy has to say something important. I left the cinema with a lot of think about, but damn it if I didn’t have a great time getting there. ‘In A World…’ is a confident and assured feature debut from a distinct comic voice, and one we will hopefully hear from again very soon.