In A World... Review

Image for In A World...

In a world where male voiceover artists reign supreme, one woman (Bell) must struggle against the odds to earn the respect of her famous father (Melamed) and make her voice heard...

★★★★

If you couldn't help but read that plot in the gravelly baritone of Don LaFontaine, or even if you know who Don LaFontaine is, there’s a good chance In A World... will strike a vocal chord with you. Don The Trailer Guy, sadly no longer with us, looms large over this pitch-perfect comedy about rival voice artists — including father Sam (A Serious Man’s Fred Melamed) and daughter Carol (writer-director Lake Bell) — competing to revive Don’s titular catchphrase in a major new trailer. It’s the kind of farcical set-up that Christopher Guest might allow his improv troupe to explore; Hollywood is already fertile ground for unchecked egos, but the voiceover industry — and its lack of mainstream recognition — makes for prime comedic real estate.

Bell, best known for forgettable Ashton Kutcher rom-coms until now, is an old pro; Carol’s habit of carrying a Dictaphone around to record interesting accents stems from Bell’s actual experiences trying to break into the biz. Despite surrounding herself with larger-than-life characters and the ridiculousness inherent in the art, Bell grounds In A World... with a natural, charismatic performance, her comic prowess bringing to mind a young Sandra Bullock. She’s no slouch in the writing department, either; Bell’s screenplay equally serves an excellent supporting cast including Ken Marino, Demetri Martin and a host of single-serving cameos, all while remaining very funny indeed. Eva Longoria’s attempt at a British accent (“Is that wot you fink you stupid slappah?”) is a particular highlight.

While Bell has much to say about showbusiness and the Boys’ Club mentality with which it’s run, In A World... frequently draws back to focus on more intimate relationships. The scene in which Carol’s sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) has her infidelity exposed by husband Moe (Rob Corddry) is a heartbreaker, played with restraint by two actors primarily known for comedy, proving just how deep the talent pool is. Best in show, however, is Fred Melamed, a man-mountain with real VO experience and the kind of booming pipes that could give old Don a run for his money.

Sweet, witty and exquisitely observed, In A World... sees the emergence of an exciting talent: any agents looking for a new triple threat should ring that Bell.