By Dan Metcalf, Jr.
Clipper Film Correspondent
In a World... (Roadside Attractions)
Rated R for language including some sexual references.
Starring Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry, Alexandra Holden, Ken Marino, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Stephanie Allynne, Melissa Disney, Olya Milova, Corsica Wilson, Eva Longoria.
Written and Directed by Lake Bell.
I love movie trailers, but try to avoid them unless I already know the source material – like ones based on books I've read. Too many trailers give away the entire film, thus ruining any surprises. One of the trademarks of a great movie trailer is the voice-over work, which is usually performed by a man with a deep, resonating, tone. The most famous trailer-voice guy of all time was the late Don LaFontaine (1940-2008), who popularized the oft-used precursor, “In a WORLD...” followed by a description of the setting for the movie (i.e. “...where machines rule...”) in thousands of movie trailers. The void left from the departure of LaFontaine is the setting for In a World..., a movie starring, written and directed by Lake Bell.
Bell plays Carol, a voice actress/coach trying to live under the shadow of her father Sam (Fred Melamed), a successful movie trailer-voice guy who is trying to take over dominance since Lafontaine's untimely death. Sam is not a very good dad, but allows Carol to stay in his home as she struggles to find work as a voice coach and voice-over actress.
When Carol gets the opportunity to “demo” a movie trailer, it catches the attention of a major studio about to release a “quadrilogy” based on a series of books about Amazon women fighting cyborgs (A nice little jab at Stephenie Meyer). Every voice-over actor in Hollywood is vying for the job, including Sam, who decides to kick Carol out of his home at the request of his young, new wife Jamie (Alexandra Holden).
Carol takes refuge with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) who lives in a tiny apartment with her husband Moe (Rob Corddry). As Carol fights to become the first major female movie trailer-voice, she experiences a little romance with another trailer contender (Ken Marino) and Louis (Demitri Martin), a recording producer who has a bad case of puppy love for her.
As the deadline for the new trailer arrives, Carol must juggle her resentment for her dad, her sister's failing marriage, and her own self esteem needed to survive in the misogynistic cut-throat world of movie trailer announcers.
In a World... is a special treat and a triumph for Lake Bell, who proves beyond a doubt that women are all too often overlooked and minimized by Hollywood, especially the really talented and clever ones. Bell's script is extremely funny, while its cadence and brilliant humor recall Woody Allen's body of work. In a World... will incite a lot of comparisons between Bell and Woody, and I suppose that should be a compliment for Bell. One thing Woody can't claim is hitting it out of the park on the first try, which is what Bell has done with In a World...
Bell's hilarious script is perhaps rivaled by her astute direction and acting, while the resolution of her original story has a few sweet surprises that make In a World... one of the best films of the year.
I hope Lake Bell has a few more movies like this, and that masses will appreciate her talent.