Wonderful premise poorly executed. Even tho he died in 2008, Don Lafontaine–the man who made the words “In a world…” resonate in a gazillion movie trailers–remains the king of Voice Overs. Film is about the guys competing to replace him & whether they will allow a chick in their sandbox.
Such a great idea, but first-time writer/director Lake Bell (who also stars) ruins it with too many 2D characters in half-baked subplots. Click HERE for our FF2 haiku. Not yet seen by Rich.
Q: Does this film pass the Bechdel Test? Yes.
In A World… is the story of a young woman in her early 30s named “Carol” (Lake Bell) who can’t quite get her act together.
Carol’s father “Sam” (Fred Melamed) is a world renown Voice Over actor, second only to Don Lafontaine–the man who made the words “In a world…” resonate in a gazillion movie trailers. Lafontaine is now dead and Carol wants to move up into movie trailer work, but Sam won’t take her seriously. He’s already anointed his own “heir apparent,” a stud named “Gustav” (Ken Marino) with whom he frequents steam rooms so that they can both keep their vocal cords limber. But don’t assume there’s anything homoerotic about these towel-only tete-a-tetes. Sam is a womanizer with a girl friend named “Jamie” (Alexandra Holden) who is not only younger than Carol but cute in a super feminine way that makes Carol nuts.
When the film begins, Carol is still living at Sam’s place, making a meager living as a voice coach who specializes in accents. Why her income is so small–and her wardrobe is so pathetic–remains a mystery. One of her jobs is training Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria (playing herself) for a movie role that requires her to speak in a specific British dialect, and Carol is clearly a pro.
Nevertheless, when Sam kicks her out so he can move Jamie in, Carol has no option other than the living room couch of her older sister “Dani” (Michaela Watkins), who works as a concierge at a fancy LA hotel. Dani is married to “Moe” (Rob Corddry) who does some kind of computer work at home. This has a plot payoff when Carol is invited to a party at Gustav’s place. She has nothing to wear but Moe knows all the neighbors, so presto chango, he knocks on a door, Carol borrows some clothes (that fit her perfectly!!!), & off she goes.
More subplots with Gustav; more subplots with Dani & Moe; more subplots with Sam & Jamie… and then a whole new set of subplots involving the folks at the studio where Carol works (which is run by a geek named “Louis” who is played by Demetri Martin).
And at some point I lose interest in all these two dimensional characters passing before my eyes, & I cease to care, even though I know that some really important issues are at stake here (like why so many adult women in our culture use “sexy baby voices” when they speak). And yet I threw in the towel well before the start of Act 3–me–the outspoken Feminist & advocate for women filmmakers!
Lake Bell is mostly known for her TV roles, & since I don’t watch much TV anymore (I’m far too consumed with trying to keep up with new movies), I had never noticed her before I saw her as “Lou” in Black Rock a few months ago. I really liked Black Rock, so I went in to the screening room rooting for her as a first-time filmmaker (writer, director & star… just like Barbra Streisand & Yentl). But now I’m left shaking my head. This mess won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival?!? I just don’t get it 🙁
SPOILER ALERT: Please do NOT read until after you have seen In A World…
At the very end of the film, venerable Geena Davis makes a cameo appearance as a character named “Katherine Huling.” Altho we’re never quite told exactly who she is, Katherine Huling appears to be one of the people who selected Carol as the voice for The Amazon Games trailer, thus breaking the power of the Old Boys Network. So far so good.
But when Carol thanks her, Huling not only brushes Carol off, she sticks a huge pin in Carol’s balloon. Yes we hired you, says Huling, we hired you even tho you weren’t the most qualified person for the job. (This may not be an exact quote, but I think it’s close enough.)
My question is: what the %$#& does this mean? The “job” isn’t to do great voiceovers, the “job” is to sell The Amazon Games (a “quadrilogy” clearly meant to parody The Hunger Games). Presumably Huling & her colleagues hired Carol because they thought their target audience of adolescent girls & young women would respond better to a female voice than a male voice. So Carol is the most qualified person for “the job,” regardless of whether or not she did the best audition.
Since the days of Cagney & Lacy way back in the ’80s, media representations of conversations which take place in the Ladies Room have held a special place in my heart. But this Ladies Room conversation left a very bitter taste in my mouth as I left the theatre & headed to… the Ladies Room!
Top Photo: Lake Bell as “Carol.”
Bottom Photo: Carol on her way to a party with her father “Sam” (Fred Melamed) & his girlfriend “Jamie” (Alexandra Holden).
Photo Credits: Bonnie Osborne/Roadside Attractions
PS: Jewish content? At one point Dani is complaining about Sam’s narcissistic personality & she blames it on Sam’s mother. Carol immediately admonishes her. Don’t say mean things about Grandma! She’s a Survivor! Oy!!!