Reviewed by Ian Forbes
You may not recognize the name Don LaFontaine but you would certainly recognize his voice. Up until his passing in 2008, LaFontaine’s vocal stylings made three little words, “In a World”, into perhaps the most imitated phrase used in movie trailers. There was a gravitas in his voice that made even the most obvious pieces of crap look cool somehow.
The voiceover landscape is largely male-dominated (outside of female-centric products, how often do you remember a woman’s voice promoting something?) and writer/director/star Lake Bell thought that this environment would prove fertile ground for exploring a competitive father/daughter relationship. The result is In a World…, with Bell playing an aspiring voiceover artist while her father is one of the most respected in the business and doesn’t think women have any place in the industry.
The film is stacked with supporting actors with comedic backgrounds (many from Childrens Hospital where Bell has also taken up residence). Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, and Michaela Watkins have all been playing doctor with one another and their chemistry shows on-screen. Demetri Martin, Nick Offerman, Tig Notaro, and Alexandra Holden fill out the ensemble nicely and the script takes advantage of all these funny people to keep things fairly light.
Considering this is Bell’s feature film directorial debut, she did a decent job. Wearing so many hats and being so close to the production made it hard for her to edit out the excess but that’s not too uncommon on first films. There’s a subplot about Watkins’ marriage to Corddry that simply doesn’t gel with the main story, nor does the attempt at a love story between Martin and Bell. These extra elements detract from the rivalry between the central daughter and her father, though it’s really the final message that doesn’t sit well with me as I think about the entirety of the project.
Fair warning, this paragraph is a bit spoilerish. Bell spends the entire movie showing what a boys’ club the voiceover industry is and attempting to mend a damaged family structure and also show that a female voice can compete with the heavy hitters. However, the final resolution of where Bell’s character ends up seems like the character taking her place where Daddy said she belonged. No matter what triumphs were made along the way, what’s the point of it all if the character is just going to settle into the comfortable space she was essentially in when the movie began?
Another rookie filmmaking mistake was having multiple characters that speak with the same voice. This is most evident in the slightly neurotic and insecure rambling that comes from both Bell’s and Martin’s characters. While I can see there’s a significant difference between the two (him-man, she-woman), their dialogue and manner of speech felt too similar. Still, there are a decent number of nice moments and I tend to enjoy movies where you can tell the actors all enjoyed working on set. While I wouldn’t say this is must see material, if you like the actors involved and think the idea of peeking into the voiceover world is an interesting idea, I wouldn’t dissuade you from checking out In a World… but I also wouldn’t tell you it had to be seen in a theater.
In a World… is rated R for language including some sexual references.
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