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In a World... (2013)

Josh Reviews In a World…

Before I went to see In a World…, I knew who Lake Bell was.  I certainly recognized her face from here and there.  I had nothing against her as an actress, but mostly I knew her as someone involved in projects I had absolutely no interest in seeing (What Happens in Vegas, It’s Complicated, No Strings Attached, the TV show Surface, I could go on…).

Well, forgive me for under-estimating her, because I just saw the new film, In a World…, that Ms. Bell wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, and it is magnificent.  One of my favorite films of the year, no question.  Consider me now a huge fan of Lake Bell!!

In In a World…, Ms. Bell stars as Carol Solomon, a young woman trying to get work in the voice-over biz.  Carol is the daughter of voice-over legend Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), but she goes by a different last name in order to try to have her own identity, separate from her well-known (at least, well-known in the voice-over community) father.  Sam doesn’t believe there’s much room in the voice-over business for non-male voices, and so he has thrown his support behind, not his daughter, but a different hot-shot protege, Gustav Warner (Ken Marino).

The title of the film comes from the famous phrase that real-life voice-over artist, the late Don LaFontaine, used to begin many, many movie trailers.  The central dramatic moment in In a World… comes when the studio behind a blockbuster new epic decides that the time has come to bring back that famous phrase in the trailer for their new film.  Suddenly Carol, Sam, and Gustav are all competing for this one voice-over gig.

In a World… might sound very “inside,” in terms of its focus on the world of voice-over talents, something I suspect the vast majority of movie-enjoying Americans have never given a second thought.  And, indeed, for me a big part of the fun of In a World… was seeing the curtain thrown back on that world, that particular sub-culture of movie-making.  But as in all the best films, that extremely specific subject serves as the setting for a very universal story.  If you know who Don LaFontaine was and got a chuckle at the title of this movie, you’re going to love this film.  But even if you’ve never heard that name before and don’t care a whit about voice-over actors, you’re still going to love this movie.

Because at its heart, In a World… is really nothing more than a sweet, compelling character-study of Carol, a goofy, amiable, somewhat lost young woman looking for her place in the world and chasing after her father’s respect.  Ms. Bell … [continued]