IN A WORLD … (review) IN A WORLD … Written and Directed by Lake Bell Starring Lake Bell, Fred Malamed and Demetri Martin
Carol: Children’s romantic comedy is a genre now?
Directorial debuts, generally speaking, can be hit or miss. In the indie film world though, there seems to be an ever-growing list of movies that are, for lack of a better word, wonderful. GARDEN STATE, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and TINY FURNITURE are just a few that have launched careers for serious directors in recent years. I believe that Lake Bell, an actress up until now (NO STRINGS ATTACHED, IT’S COMPLICATED), should be added to the list of writers and directors to watch out for. Her introduction, IN A WORLD, is quite simply a quirky, awkward and hilarious debut feature.
Carol (Bell) works as a freelance vocal coach living in the shadow of her father’s (Fred Melamed) fame, as the most recognized voice in movie trailers today. When the opportunity comes along for her to do her own trailer voiceover, she steps in and does the work well. Much to her surprise, she is suddenly landing more voiceover gigs. She attempts to tell her father this great news, but he is so entirely caught up in his own world, that she eventually just forgets about it and gets lost in her new profession. Despite voice work of this kind being uncommon for women, Carol is offered the trailer for an upcoming epic movie adaptation of “The Amazon Games”, a series of books geared towards young women. Rumour has it that the studio wants to bring back the iconic “In a world…” catch phrase, that hasn’t been used since the passing of real life voiceover star, Don LaFontaine, in 2008. When her father, and other top names in the trailer voiceover community (Ken Morino for one), hear of her job opportunity, the race is on to be the voice of that coveted phrase.
As enjoyable as IN A WORLD is, it does run into one problem; it tries to cover too much ground with the inclusion of just too many subplots. Her sister (Michaela Watkins) and her husband’s (Rob Corddry) marital troubles for one, seem to have no real importance to the main story, but simply seem like something Bell felt she needed to include. This may just be first time filmmaker nerves. The ensemble dynamic helps inform on character background, and causes for some hilarious moments of great, dry seriousness, but they seem to all be fighting for the top spot in the narrative at times. Still, Bell stands out in the lead role, as a star. I have always wondered what would have happened to Angela Chase, from “My So-Called Life”, when she grew up, and Bell’s Carol encompasses everything I hoped Angela would be. From her 90’s denim overalls and red hair, to her awkward moments with men, it seems Bell has channeled one of my 90’s fictional role models.
Despite the minor bumps in the narrative, IN A WORLD is a completely charming comedy, and rather unexpectedly so. It isn’t trying to be something it’s not; it’s just a proud indie comedy with a lot of heart. The humour (including Bell’s own ability with accents) is intelligent and never once dumbs it down to slap-stick territory. There are times when the dialogue may come across as slightly silly, but it’s fun silly, the type of humour one might even call mature and that is often missing from the male dominated world of movies. It makes us laugh because the situations Carol finds herself in, are very real and the reactions are equally so. While the men may be the stars of the voice over community, IN A WORLD wants you to know that it’s the female characters which are the real gems here.
Bell clearly knows the tale she is telling. Her ideas transfer succinctly onto the screen and allow us to actually feel something, whether that’s through laugher or even a tear of happiness. You’ll probably find yourself (like I did) cheering for the underdog in this one, and it’s incredibly well deserved. Only in this case, the underdog isn’t just Bell’s character on screen, but also the writer/director herself as well.
How many sheep would you give In a World?