“In a World…” marks Lake Bell’s first foray into feature film and its clear that she’s learned a lot in her long career. With “In A World,” she assembled an expert cast of characters and wrote a smart and funny script that plays to the strengths of every performer to create a short and entertaining film.
Carol (Bell) – daughter of Sam (Fred Melamed), the reigning king of movie-trailer voice overs (since the passing of Don LaFontaine) – is a vocal coach who isn’t doing much with her life. When her father kicks her out of the house, Carol moves in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry) until she can get her life in order.
Carol takes a job coaching Eva Longoria in a Cockney accent but is asked by recording tech Louis (Demetri Martin) to record a quick temp track for a movie trailer since the famed voice-over actor Gustav (Ken Marino) called out sick. It turns out that the studio loves Carol – Louis continues to book her commercial gigs, and Carol’s life finally starts to straighten out.
Carol is snappy and quick-witted, and Bell plays her in a way that’s lively but not slapstick – the balance works. As the story continues, the cut-throat competition between the voice over artists comes into play; there’s a great warm-up montage that’s reminiscent of 80’s sports/training movies.
“In a World…” features some great, dynamic relationships: between Carol and her father, the competing voice over talents, Carol and her sister, and her sister and brother-in-law. Bell’s script is witty, funny, and fast-paced. Scenes happen quickly and the film has an improvised feel which speaks to the quality of the performances and writing. Characters talk over each other and people pop in and out of situations and conversations, further adding to the quick pacing.
The film doesn’t go out of its way to highlight the fact that it takes place in Los Angeles – other than the occasional skyline, notable buildings are absent and you only catch a glimpse of the occasional palm tree. Also absent are smartphones – almost all the characters use some sort of flip phone, which was an interesting choice by the filmmakers.
While “In a World…” isn’t perfect, its subject manner was entirely original, and its strength is definitely in the personal relationships between the characters.