A Review by Liam Fleming
Many a Hollywood department has come under scrutiny in film and television: directors ('8 1/2'), writers ('Barton Fink'), even the extras (well, Extras), but when I heard they were making a film about voiceovers or V/O’s to those of us in the business, I was a little sceptical, not least of all because I wasn’t sure how much material there would be for a film that was billed as a comedy. Not to mention the title, which, on the best of days, sounds unironically cheesy on initial assessment. But oh, how I was wrong...
Lake Bell directs, writes and stars in this very funny look at one woman’s attempt to make it in the voiceover industry, a sector of Hollywood dominated by the low growls and deep tones of the male voice, like Don LaFontaine (whose catchphrase inspired the film's title). The main joy in 'In A World' is Bell herself: starring as Carol, the daughter of famous voiceover king Sam "Sotto" Solomon, who works as a voice coach to the stars (in this case a very funny if not slightly desperate Eva Longoria) whilst trying to make a living from doing voiceovers for film trailers.
The film depicts Carol’s relationships with great tenderness and a careful hand, whether it be with the delightfully awkward Louis played by stand-up Dimitri Martin or her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins), there is always a beautiful sentiment between the different interactions. I was especially intrigued by the fraught relationship between Carol and her father who seems so involved in his own legend that the thought of his daughter doing well is actually a blow to him. There are several great moments where this attitude comes to life and it really hits home how much this has destroyed his family in a potent scene over dinner with his daughter and girlfriend who is probably younger than they are.
Though there are moments of real beauty in the script that will stay with me, the thing I will remember most is the comedy. This passed the six laugh test set down by Mark Kermode and then some. I was constantly laughing out loud throughout. And not only at the script which is very amusing (the phrase "positive road-blocking" is a classic I will use in everyday life from now on), but also at the actors themselves who were obviously given the freedom to improvise around their lines and do so with great result. Gustav, Carols competition in the industry, played by Ken Marino, has several of these moments and had me clutching my sides several times.
Unfortunately, the film ends on a downer that I don’t think necessarily needed to happen. I won’t go into details as that would spoil the film but needless to say I felt a slight anti-climax occurred. The only other quibble I have with the film is how Hollywood the romances get - that may sound silly as the film deals with an aspect of the Hollywood lifestyle, but I felt that it did a good job of being down-to-earth for the majority, so was disappointed when it took the easy road out.
Those issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, so it's in my smoothest, deepest tone that I say...
'In a World'... pretty darn good.