Voice-over acting is a timeless art that has existed for decades. The late great Don LaFontaine’s God-like voice is cemented in the minds of anyone who has ever heard a movie trailer in the latter half of the 20th century. His famous line “In a world…” is one of American pop culture’s greatest gems. His art has been imitated time and time again though few people have come close to duplicating his talent. The new indie comedy by Lake Bell, In a World…, takes the viewer on a fascinating and often amusing look into the cutthroat world of voice-over acting.
Carol (Lake Bell) is a vocal coach and daughter of voice-over legend Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed). Things are moving along for Carol but not at the pace she so desires, that is until she manages to book two major voice-over gigs. With a fresh female voice in a male-dominated industry, Carol is determined to break barriers even if she is in direct competition with her father.
In a World… is an original, sharp and genuinely funny movie. The cast is a grab bag of quirky character actors/comedians. Lake Bell (What Happens in Vegas, Childrens Hospital) is almost like a modern-day female Woody Allen with her almost unlimited supply of witty dialogue. She serves not only as the film’s star but as writer and director as well and the results here are pretty solid. With a cool, hippy-ish, slightly awkward and always likable way about her, Bell shines in this understated comedy in just about every way.
The cast of In a World… is one of the components that truly make the film extraordinary. The performances are so brilliant and chemistry among the actors is just so great. This film is almost like a party put on by the cast. They are having a great time and seem to be having lots of fun in each scene. Many of the cast members are actually coworkers from another comedic entity, Adult Swim’s zany series Childrens Hospital. Other than Lake Bell, there’s Rob Cordry (The Daily Show) and Ken Marino (Party Down). Each scene these two funny men are in is pure comedic gold. The same can be said about dry comedian Demetri Martin (Important Things with Demetri Martin). He has a budding romance with Bell in the film and the scenes they share are pretty damn adorable.
Having mentioned the wonderful comedic cast, one must also highlight the importance of Fred Melamed’s (A Serious Man) work in the film. Playing an aging star with an odd lifestyle, Melamed is downright hilarious. His voice is commanding and his relationship with his daughter is truly wonderful in a sensitive yet offbeat kind of way. He’s just so natural and really makes the viewer want to see more of him on screen. Everything about him is unique and that is what truly grabs the viewer.
Now, a great cast needs a great script and Lake Bell has penned a rather fun and realistic screenplay here. The awkward moments in real life fill In a World… to the brim. Like most indie dramedies, this is a common occurrence but with hilarious actors reciting such genuine dialogue, it is certainly a treat for the ears.
In a World… explores a number of themes and ideas, the most common of which is “competition” and the “father/daughter” dynamic. Carol and Sam are family yet they go head to head in their professional lives. Worlds collide and the results are just terrific. Bell’s film will probably fall through the cracks with more mainstream audiences. It won best screenplay at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and deservedly so. That is a great honor but it won’t sell seats in a multiplex. Hopefully, In a World… will garner a strong cult following and help push Bell into the spotlight a little more. She is an overall great talent and her acting and filmmaking abilities are strong evidence of that fact.