In a World...
Director(s): Lake Bell
Writer(s): Lake Bell
Cast: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, Alexandra Holden and Tig Notaro
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Aug 16, 2013 - Limited
In a summer full of expensive flops with stories that left audiences going “meh” comes In a World…, a film with a budget 1/200th of the top flops that should have you shouting “yeah!”
Lake Bell, who stars as voice-over actor/coach Carol Solomon, wrote and directed this film that was shot in under three weeks for less than one million dollars, which probably doesn’t cover the premiere budget for a film like The Lone Ranger. She and her merry band of performers have given us a film with more heart, laughs and content in 93 minutes than many pack in a trilogy. Yes, I’m bluntly hammering home a point here people: if you give audiences a story that doesn’t treat us like idiots and gives us characters we can care about, you don’t need to spend an amount of money that can affect a studio’s stock price when it fails.
Lake’s Carol works mostly as a vocal coach, a wizard with accents who helps actors like Eva Longoria master a Cockney accent for a film role. She’d really love to be the voice-over artist for film trailers, but that’s a male-dominated world ruled by her mellifluous and self-absorbed father, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), and his younger friend Gustav Warner (Ken Marino). When her dad kicks her out to make room for his young new girlfriend/groupie (Alexandra Holden), a series of events leads to a three-way race for the biggest voice-over gig in years.
The film also delves into relationships including that of Carol’s sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and her husband, Moe (Rob Corddry) and the possibility of a relationship between Carol and her sound engineer, Louis (Demetri Martin).
It’s a strong cast throughout. Bell is quirky, offbeat and endearing, an Annie Hall with a gift for accents. If Fred Melamed’s Sam was any more self-absorbed he’d be a black hole and his protege/competition, Ken Marino’s Gustav is so slick and slimy he probably leaves a film on the baths his maid gives him. Watkins and Corddry have both played oddball characters but here they find some pathos among the pranks, while Demetri Martin deftly handles the awkward yet determined suitor who sees the real strength of Carol’s abilities.
The film won Best Screenplay at Sundance and it is here that I find only a few flaws. There is so much happening in the voice-over world — competition, intrigue, family rivalry — that the detours into marital discord and fidelity seem like a partially-cooked side to a well-prepared entree. Some of the plot lines get tied up or tossed in record time with the sort of abandon we see in sitcoms that have to solve everything before the credits. These are really minor quibbles though and with In a World… Bell has created a film where we enjoy the time we’ve spent with the characters and can actually relate to them as real people. Walk past the noisy, explosion-filled cinema and enter a world where story and characters actually take the time to work together.