In A World...

In A World...


Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

Actress Lake Bell's debut feature, which she a wrote and directed and stars in, mines one of Hollywood's many curious niches for its source material - the unseen profession of trailer voice-over stars. The title itself is an homage to the iconic opening line heard on innumerable trailers that actor Don LaFontaine made infamous in his booming tones.

Bell plays Carol Solomon, a struggling vocal coach in contemporary LA who subsists in the shadow of her larger than life (with voice to match) voice actor father Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed). So dominant is Sam in the industry, the reigning king of movie trailer voice-over artists, that few actually know that he and Carol are related. Not even industry up and comer, general slimeball and secret protege of Sam Gustav Warner (Ken Marino) knows who Carol is... until the day comes when she gets offered a voice-over job that he had his eye on.

Having spent most of her time, when not scraping teaching jobs, wandering the city stalking passers by to secretly record their accented voices for inspiration, the neurotic and erratic Carol is not well prepared for the hotbed of sexism and ego that taking on the champions of voice over stirs up. With sound tech Louis (Demetri Martin) and sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) in her corner, Carol has to face-off against the boys brigade of Sam and Gustav when the chance comes to audition for the chance of uttering the legendary 'In a world...' opening line for an upcoming tween market epic's trailer. What shoud have been a breakthrough job ends up exposing familial competition and tensions, dirty tricks, cheating hearts, and general mayhem.

Bell certainly knows how to stuff a movie with film and TV comedy talent. In addition to the main stars, comedy veterans Rob Corddry (The Daily Show), Tig Notaro (The Office, Community) and Nick Offerman (21 Jump Street, Parks and Recreation) also make appearances, as do Eva Longoria and Cameron Diaz, who gamely send themselves up.

So why doesn't the film ever feel like its moving faster than cruise control? Maybe it's because, despite the idiosyncratic characters, smart insider observations and interesting setting - built around the absurd idea that even in this tiny incestuous industry there can only be one king at the top of the heap - there are also too many laugh moments relying on off-the-shelf stereotypes, such as egomaniacal actors who take phone calls in the hottub and rant around the shop in dressing gowns. There are plenty of reheated gags, too - this reviewer personally switches off any time an American actor mocks a british accent with Dick Van Dyke-isms like 'Chim-chim chereeā€. The conclusion is also predictable - wounds are healed, career ambitions achieved, glass ceilings broken and such.

Bell has said the work is semi-autobiographic, having been interested in recording accents and doing voice impersonations since childhood (she apparently still today has boxes of tapes of random Russians in supermarkets, lonely Irish exchange students, and a Turkish woman yelling at her son in a subway). Nevertheless, Bell doesn't quite make the most of the comic and dramatic potential of pushing the curtain aside on this hotbed of vanity and ambition in tinseltown.

Reviewed on: 08 May 2013
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An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voice-over star.
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Director: Lake Bell

Writer: Lake Bell

Starring: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed

Year: 2013

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: US


Sundance 2013

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