DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

IN A WORLD... (director/writer: Lake Bell; cinematographer: Seamus Tierney; editor:  Tom McArdle; music: Ryan Miller; cast: Lake Bell (Carol Solomon), Ken Marino (Gustav Warner), Rob Corddry (Moe), Nick Offerman (Heners), Tig Notaro (Cher), Alexandra Holden (Jamie), Demetri Martin (Louis), Michaela Watkins (Dani), Fred Melamed (Sam Soto), Geena Davis (Katherine Huling), Stephanie Allynne (Nancy), Eva Longoria (Herself), Don LaFontaine (Himself), Jeff Garlin (Himself), Olva Milova (Mimi); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lake Bell/Jett Steiger/Mark Roberts/Eddie Vaisman; Roadside Attractions; 2013)

"It's a well-conceived and acted female empowerment tale that smartly answers its question of why women are rarely hired to do the voice-overs of trailers."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lake Bell is a New York-born actress who studied acting at the London theater conservatory. She's writer-director-star-producer of this engaging indie comedy, her debut directorial feature. It's a well-conceived and acted female empowerment tale that smartly answers its question of why women are rarely hired to do the voice-overs of trailers. It's about a struggling underachiever LA-based voice coach, Carol Solomon (Lake Bell), and her awkward relationship with her unsupportive egotistical famous voice-over widowed father Sam (Fred Melamed)--their dysfunctional relationship serves as a metaphor for the 'old boys' club' world that discriminates against women in the job world. Bell won the Sundance 2013 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for her refreshing script.

It's a goofy but perceptive movie that seduced me to take an interest in the world of voiceovers, holding my interest throughout even if I initially could care less about voiceover artists. The pic pays homage to the late great voiceover artists of movie trailers, Don LaFontaine, who was the most revered in his field until his death in 2008 and who coined the term used for the title.

We follow the 30-year-old Carol living at home with her reigning 'king of the voiceovers' dad, and at work coaching up the actress Eva Longoria to do a Cockney accent. Carol's self-absorbed dad has his much younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) move in and gives Carol the boot. Carol arranges to move in with her frustrated older office secretary sister Dani (Michaela Watkins), who is living with her too mellow nice guy boyfriend Moe (Rob Corddry).

The socially awkward Louis (Demetri Martin) is a first-class sound engineer who's attracted to Carol and arranges for her to be heard for a gig voicing the come-ons for a from-hunger girl-power quadrilogy called The Amazon Games. This leads to some mix-ups over the no-name Carol getting the gig over the wealthy arrogant noted voice-over artist Gustave Warner (Ken Marino), and her legendary booming baritone voiced dad's surprising negative reaction to his daughter's good fortune that leads him to also vindictively apply for that important gig to beat out his daughter even after she's promised the job.

It hits home with its relevant story that includes caveats about a cautionary romance, family dysfunction, marital woes, the cutthroat competition in the voice-over field, sexism in the job market and an expose of how women are getting the shaft in the voice-over world by the men who run things. Bell fights back with humor, perseverance and care for her craft, as she gleefully and wisely tells us the world is slowly changing and that women have come a long way but there's still progress to look forward to ahead.

REVIEWED ON 9/7/2013       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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