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.
Reviewed by Ali Gray