In a World… Review


In a World… derives its title from the famous little uttered by Don “The Voice of God” LaFontaine hundreds and hundreds of times in movie trailers, commercials, etc. It takes place in the wake of LaFontaine’s death, and while the real man’s specter hangs over the entire film, it’s an entirely fictional—and mostly hilarious—take on this tiny, but incredibly competitive industry.

It’s written by, directed by, and stars Lake Bell (something of a revelation on all three fronts). She plays Carol, a vocal coach and wannabe voiceover star. The industry, however, doesn’t have room at the top for a woman, or so her father—Sam (Fred Melamed), an accomplished voiceoverman in his own right—tells her regularly.

The void at the top left by LaFontaine is poised to be filled by Gustav (Ken Marino); Sam, having done everything but become the official “in a world…” guy, is happy to step aside for his good friend. When Gustav misses a gig due to illness, however, it’s Carol who fills in, and she impresses the higher-ups at the studio. She parlays that into the job within the industry. A new young adult trilogy (“The Amazon Games”, hilariously starring Cameron Diaz) is bringing back “in a world…” for the first time since LaFontaine, and the line is suddenly Carol’s to lose. News of this springs her father back into the game, and there’s still Gustav to contend with, so all three must cut their own perfect version of the trailer. Winner takes all.

In a World…‘s best quality is its elusiveness. By not fitting easily into any one genre, Bell’s screenplay can try A LOT of things. It’s a story about multiple fractured families; in addition to the issues that exist between Carol and Sam, the former’s sister, Dani (Michaela Watkins), works through issues with her husband, Moe (Rob Corddry). It’s also a workplace comedy and an underdog story, and the entire movie features heavily feminist themes. In fact, it’s probably that last piece—the feminism—that the film works hardest to hit.

Because it’s doing so many things, a few pieces are undercooked. Dani and Moe’s story—she kisses a hunky Irish actor, he pines for the sexy British neighbor, they both want sandwiches—is afforded too much time and energy to brush off as insignificant, but it’s not given enough room to breathe amongst everything else that’s going on to call it a success. Sam, meanwhile, is an asshole to an almost unrealistic degree. It’s the same problem I had with The Way, Way Back earlier this year. Both films work too hard to get us to sympathize with/root for their leads that the supporting characters feel too one-note. As much as I love Fred “Larry, we’re gonna be fine” Melamed—and he’s good here despite the problems with the role—some massaging needed to be done with that character outside of the predictable come down of the film’s final act.

But In a World… is too unique and enjoyable to dismiss because it’s slight and has a few subplot problems. Bell has turned a skill that probably served her well at parties and such in the past into a good feature film. And in the process, she transformed her own image from that of a somewhat anonymous, moderately successful supporting actress into that of an exciting, up-and-coming filmmaker and actress who can carry a high-quality motion picture.

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