Movie Review: In a World…

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A young woman tries to break into the male-dominated world of voiceover acting, putting her in competition with her father and his protege.

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Lake Bell, 2013

Carol (Lake Bell) is a vocal coach and the daughter of voiceover actor Sam (Fred Melamed), who repeatedly tells her that the world of voiceovers doesn’t want a female voice. When his much younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) moves in, Carol is forced to live with her sister Dani (Michaela Watson) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry), who are having marital problems. When someone drops out, Carol records a voiceover for an advertisement and starts getting more auditions. Following the death of a legendary voiceover actor, the man responsible for making the phrase “in a world…” famous, the industry is looking for a new voice. In the running are Sam and his protege, the arrogant Gustav (Ken Marino), who Carol starts a weird affair with while awkwardly flirting with her friend Louis (Demetri Martin). Carol puts in an audition to do a trailer voiceover for a new post-apocalyptic that plans to bring back the iconic phrase, alongside her father and Gustav.

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This movie has such an intriguing premise that I was really interested in seeing it, particularly since Lake Bell directed and wrote the film, as well as starring in it. Carol is an interesting protagonist, prickly and self-centred but also determined to improve her station and those of other women. I didn’t find the movie even remotely interesting or funny when it wasn’t specifically about the voiceover stuff, though, and it wasn’t about that much. The humour is awkward and weird, stilted, and while there are a lot of talented people involved I thought the movie was kind of a mess. The relationship between Carol and Louis is particularly painful to watch, so incredibly awkward. It feels like Bell had an idea but didn’t know what to do with it. I think she shows promise, and I’m sure the film was hard to get made, but perhaps more voices could have pointed out some of the weaker points in the story if Bell hadn’t done it all alone. She’s compelling but wastes a lot of the potential of an interesting idea.

The performances are, understandably, also stilted and strange. The best part of the movie is Alexandra Holden’s Jamie, the younger girlfriend of Carol’s father, who is funny and heartfelt and turns the movie around. There’s some chemistry between Rob Corddry and Michaela Watson that could have been explored better – they provide a few moments of pathos, but those are mostly more of a distraction than a real contribution to the story. Ken Marino does his usual pompous jerk routine with his usual degree of success, and provides one of the only genuinely hilarious, bizarre moments of the film. There’s a sharp dose of reality doled out by a cameoing (it’s a word) Geena Davis, which is easily the best scene in the film. The movie really ends on a strong note, and speaks of a lot of Bell’s promise – the interesting gendered elements and the character interactions come together, and there’s hope in the realism that it represents.

In a World… on IMDB

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