×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

In a World …

To call Lake Bell a magnetic, intelligent, blithely screwball leading lady in the Carole Lombard tradition might be selling her short.

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

To call Lake Bell a magnetic, intelligent, blithely screwball leading lady in the Carole Lombard tradition might be selling her short. With “In a World … ,” a rollicking laffer about the cutthroat voiceover biz in Los Angeles, she proves herself a comedy screenwriter to be reckoned with. She’s also a curator of talent that makes her debut feature a giddy, inside-Hollywood romp. Star power is limited — Bell and casting director John Papsidera have put together an A-team of supporting thesps — but word of mouth can only help a film with too many laugh lines to be absorbed in one sitting.

The pic leaps its principal hurdle, making the voiceover industry something auds will care about, via the strength of its characters, who ably demonstrate the kind of petty jealousies and basic desires that afflict any field. Opening with a tribute to the recently deceased Don LaFontaine — who had the voice that defined the “in a world … “-style movie trailer (best uttered with imperial bombast) — Bell sets up the sector as experiencing a kingly vacuum: Who will inherit the mantle?

Scrambling ensues. Carol Solomon (Bell), an underachieving vocal coach, has lived in the shadow of her pompous, randy father Sam Sotto (a terrific Fred Melamed), the presumptive heir to the LaFontaine throne. Sam is imperious, but he has rivals, including the much younger Gustav (Ken Marino) and, to everyone’s wonder, including Carol’s, Carol herself.

Subplots flourish. Having been thrown out of dad’s house to make room for his new and much younger girlfriend, Jamie (a sweetly daffy Alexandra Holden), Carol moves into the undersized apartment of her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and Dani’s husband, Moe (Rob Corddry), who suffer a matrimonial crisis of a most distressing sort.

At the studio run by Carol’s chief admirer Louis (Demetri Martin), she helps straighten out disastrous soundtracks, including one featuring Eva Longoria as an accent-mangling cockney pirate. Louis thinks Carol has the chops to land the voiceover crowd’s most coveted prize: the trailer gig on an upcoming fantasy “quadrilogy” that hews very close to “The Hunger Games.” Whether she can displace her own father — and Gustav, with whom she also has some baggage — is the question.

A great deal of the enjoyment of “In a World … ” is provided by Bell’s vocal agility; she mimics ditzy, squeaky-voiced women to their face, and then nimbly shifts into the stentorian tones of a sci-fi voiceover queen. Carol is a solid if standard character — the young woman looking to find herself, and believe in her own talents — but Bell gives her a smart and charming comedic twist.

Her cast, including the always reliable Corddry, the revelatory Watkins and Martin (an offbeat but on-point object-of-desire), come through valiantly. There’s also a smattering of cameos, including Longoria, Geena Davis as the studio chief behind the quadrilogy, and what appears to be an uncredited Cameron Diaz in the movie trailer inside the movie.

Production values seemed off during the film’s Sundance premiere: Scenes looked distractingly dark, and the sound was occasionally indistinct, which doesn’t help a feature with so much clashing dialogue.

Popular on Variety

In a World …

Production: A More Films and Team G presentation of a 3311 production. Produced by Eddie Vaisman, Jett Steiger, Lake Bell, Mark Roberts. Executive producers, Ross Jacobson, Sean O'Grady. Co-producers, David Grace, Chris Douridas. Directed, written by Lake Bell.

Crew: Camera (color), Seamus Tierney; editor, Tom McArdle; music, Ryan Miller; music supervisor, Chris Douridas; production designer, Megan Fenton; art director, Ashley Fenton; set decorator, Elizabeth Garner; costume designer, Lindy McMichael; sound, Matthew Nicolay, Ken Pries; re-recording mixer, Mark Rozett; assistant director, Jill Maxcy; casting, John Papsidera. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 20, 2013. Running time: 93 MIN.

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

More Film

  • The Irishman BTS

    Best Director Race Captures Hollywood at a Crossroads

    When Martin Scorsese made an offhand quip about his skepticism toward the Marvel Cinematic Universe earlier this fall, specifically whether the blockbuster franchise films that now provide a hefty share of Hollywood studio grosses should be considered “cinema” at all, he couldn’t have predicted the sort of longstanding firestorm he was about to set off. [...]

  • Laura Dern AoA

    Laura Dern Calls Out the Double Standard That Exists Between Mothers and Fathers

    While discussing her performance in “Marriage Story” with Sterling K. Brown for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Laura Dern addressed the contentious double-standard that exists between mothers and fathers; particularly those struggling with separation and divorce. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story” chronicles the dissolution of a marriage between a stage director and [...]

  • Promotion of Roman Polanski's New Film

    Promotion of Roman Polanski's New Film Canceled in France, but Not Its Premiere

    In the wake of French actress Valentine Monnier’s allegation of rape against Roman Polanski, the promotion of the director’s latest film, “An Officer and a Spy,” has been axed in France, but the movie’s premiere Tuesday night and its theatrical release are scheduled to go forward. Real-life period drama “An Officer and a Spy” is [...]

  • Roger and Cowan Promotions

    Rogers & Cowan/ PMK Promotes Executives in Entertainment Division

    Rogers & Cowan/PMK has promoted Lindsay Galin, Jeff Raymond, Dennis Dembia, Michael Donkis, and Marian Koltai-Levine to executive positions in its entertainment division. Galin and Raymond have been named co-presidents of talent. Dembia and Donkis have been promoted to co-presidents of entertainment and business strategy, and Koltai-Levine will serve as president of film, content and [...]

  • Laura Dern Actors on Actors

    Laura Dern's Mother, Diane Ladd, Didn't Want Her to Act

    Laura Dern has wanted to act since she was seven years old, and, coming from acting parents including father Bruce Dern and mother Diane Ladd, one may think her parents encouraged the propensity. But according to Dern, that wasn’t the case. “They didn’t want me to,” the “Marriage Story” actress told Sterling K. Brown during [...]

  • WGA Strike Labor Talks

    How the Streaming Revolution Is Making Guild Negotiations Even More Complicated

    It may not be a perfect storm yet, but ominous clouds are gathering. As the winter holidays approach, there’s growing agita across the industry about the potential for substantial labor strife next year. The WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA are gearing up for master film and TV contract negotiations with the major studios at a time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content