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By Tom Clift
March 31, 2014
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In A World…

This endearing indie comedy takes down the world of Hollywood voiceovers with justifiable disdain.
By Tom Clift
March 31, 2014
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Have you ever noticed how trailers are almost exclusively narrated by men? Lake Bell has. Taking its title from those three iconic words which have set the scene in movie promos for decades, Bell’s directorial debut is an endearing indie comedy set in the world of Hollywood voiceovers — a selective, male-dominated industry for which the actress-cum-filmmaker exhibits both affection and justifiable disdain.

Bell plays Carol Solomon, an underachieving LA vocal coach who spends her days teaching Hollywood actresses how to master complicated accents. Her real dream, however, is to break into voiceover, despite the protestations of her father Sam (Fred Melamed), a legendary vocal actor himself, who insists that the industry just “does not crave a female sound”.

Taking its cues from the slacker comedies of Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) and company, In A World… moves at an unhurried pace, much more concerned with banter than plot. In addition to the smoothly voiced Melamed, whose delightfully pompous performance recalls his breakout role in A Serious Man, Bell’s stacked comedic cast includes Ken Marino as Sam’s sleazy heir apparent Gustav, Demetri Martin as Carol’s awkward romantic admirer Louis, as well as Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry as Carol’s sister Dani and brother in-law Moe, whose marital woes Carol inadvertently aggravates.

The entire cast operates at the top of their game. Yet it’s Bell who is undeniably the main attraction. As an actress, she imbues Carol with a disarming combination of gawkiness, determination and wit. As a director, she shows natural ability, capturing the less glamorous corners of Los Angeles with an unexaggerated lens. As a writer, she packs her script with hilarious rejoinders and snarky jabs at pop culture (the job for which Carol, Sam and Gustav eventually find themselves competing is the teaser trailer for the massive new Amazon Games quadrilogy about “fierce mutated Amazonian warriors battling clone prehistoric cavemen hybrids. It’s all based on the Prussian war.”)

Better yet, amidst all the relaxed humour, Bell makes a genuine point. Chauvinism still runs rampant in our culture, perpetuated, at least in part, by the entertainment industry. In A World… sets its sights on the double standard — an explicit denouncement of Hollywood’s sexism in the third act is rather blunt, but perhaps bluntness is what's required. Bell’s own big-screen résumé to this point consists mostly of thankless rom-com bit-parts. It’s telling that it took a role she wrote for herself to finally give her the chance to shine.

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