×
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

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content