Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Movie Review: In A World...(2013)

A canny comedy, In A World... finds sharp laughs in an irreverent story tucked into a quirky corner of the movie industry.

In Los Angeles, Carol (Lake Bell) is a vocal coach struggling to break into the male-dominated movie trailer voice-over business. Her father Sam (Fred Melamed), a leading voice-over talent, is looking to pass the torch to the younger Gustav Warner (Ken Marino). Recently deceased Don LaFontaine had popularized the iconic "In a world..." trailer introduction, and the industry is now eagerly anticipating the selection of his heir for the upcoming Amazon Games movie quadrology.

Sam's younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) moves in with him, displacing Carol to the apartment of her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and her husband Moe (Rob Corddry), who have a wobbly marriage. Carol gets some career breaks and is suddenly in the running for the coveted Amazon Games assignment. She also gets sexually entangled with Gustav, while hesitant studio technician Louis (Demetri Martin) tries to attract her attention.

Written, directed and co-produced by Bell, In A World... is an independent production with a breezy, free-wheeling structure. The laughs are derived from characters and situations, Bell demonstrating an ear for the messiness of real conversations and acknowledged individual imperfections. Occupying the uncelebrated, arcane and tiny profession of trailer voice-overs, all her characters are hustling for something better, trampling over each other into an often hilarious jumble.

With gentle pokes at a variety of topics, the film is about nothing and everything, most reminiscent of an extended Seinfeld episode. Bell highlights women's under-representation in a male dominated profession, while acknowledging up front that a grand total of five people make money in the trailer voice-over business. The problems in the union between Dani and Moe have little to do with the central plot, and yet Carol uses her accent sleuthing skills and ever-present small tape recorder to help. 

Carol's love-and-sex adventures add a funky layer of complications, including a wild encounter with Gustav triggering internecine back-stabbing plots, followed by awkward wooing from Louis. 

It's not all supposed to hang together but In A World... simply clicks, Bell smoothing the disparate chapters of Carol's life into a cohesive whole and finding humour in the absurdities of brave career and romance misadventures. Even the dangers of tokenism in the battle for gender rights receive a firm jab in the ribs.

In a world where astute comedies are hard to find, In A World... is the must-see event of the season.



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