Director: Lake Bell
Stars: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, Demetri Martin, Alexandra Holden, Michaela Watkins, Geena Davis, Stephanie Allynne
In a world after the legend of voiceover work Don LaFontaine has died, there’s room for a new legend in the voiceover business. Sam (Melamed) always played second fiddle to LaFontaine but now thinks he may be too old to dominate the scene, so he backs the younger Gustav (Marino). However, Sam’s daughter Carol (Bell) also has hopes, although the odds are against her since there has never been a female voice used to narrate a movie trailer.
In a World… is a little meta at times since Don LaFontaine was an actual person and he did die, and I can imagine that some of the events depicted here actually happened. I thought it was a decent movie but it felt unfocused. I always like films that go behind the scenes of Hollywood and near the beginning this had the feeling of a Robert Altman film since Bell employed the technique of having characters talk over one another to emulate the style of natural dialogue. It also seemed to start out as a faux documentary, but it quickly abandoned that premise and became a more formulaic film.
The main narrative focuses on Carol as she tries to break out from vocal coaching and push the boundaries to usurp her father’s ego. Bell was really good in the role and as a director she managed to get good performances out of the cast. However, as I said, the film is unfocused. There are many subplots going on but they’re not given enough time to breathe, so there are big dramatic moments, for example with Carol’s sister and brother-in-law, but they fail to have resonance because as soon as they happen the film skips away again. It tries to jam too much in at once, you have Carol trying to break into the voiceover industry, the relationship between Sam and his daughters, marriage drama with Dani and Moe, Carol’s romantic life, and commentary on gender roles in the industry.
As a result In a World… lacks depth, although it’s still entertaining. It moves along at a quick pace and while it’s not a raucous comedy there are some laugh-out-loud moments. There’s a surprising flip towards the end as well, which felt sadly realistic.
Also, there’s a welcome appearance from Geena Davis, who seemed to have disappeared completely.
I enjoyed In a World… although I think it could have had more depth if it had chosen to focus on one aspect of the narrative rather than jamming in all these subplots. It feels a little hectic as some characters come and go from the movie, so I wouldn’t class it as a must-see but it’s not something to avoid either.