Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’ Won’t Arrive Until 2016, Austin Music Scene Drama Not Titled ‘Weightless’ Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’ Won’t Arrive Until 2016, Austin Music Scene Drama Not Titled ‘Weightless’ The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 'Lucy 2' And 'Colombiana 2' Are In Development 'Lucy 2' And 'Colombiana 2' Are In Development Mixed Reactions For Marvel's 'Ant-Man' After First Press Screening Plus New Promos And Pics Mixed Reactions For Marvel's 'Ant-Man' After First Press Screening Plus New Promos And Pics The Essentials: The 5 Best Rachel McAdams Performances The Essentials: The 5 Best Rachel McAdams Performances The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Sundance Review: 'In A World...' A Low-Key Charmer & Promising Directorial Debut For Lake Bell

Photo of Cory Everett By Cory Everett | @modage January 25, 2013 at 9:43AM

One of the worst things you could say about a comedy is usually that it has a wide appeal. The most interesting comedies are the ones that tend to be hyper-specific, focused on an insular world of some kind (think '70s newsrooms in “Anchorman” or '80s summer camp in “Wet Hot American Summer”), while the ones pitched to the widest audience end up having storylines like “Hardworking ad executive can’t seem to get her love life together!” Just ask Judd Apatow, who learned on “Freaks & Geeks” that the more specific something is, the more it tends to resonate.
1
In A World...

Usually one of the worst insults you could lob at a comedy is that it has a broad appeal. The most interesting comedies are the ones that tend to be hyper-specific, focused on an insular world of some kind (think '70s newsrooms in “Anchorman” or '80s summer camp in “Wet Hot American Summer”), while the ones pitched to the widest audience end up having storylines like “Hardworking ad executive can’t seem to get her love life together!” Just ask Judd Apatow who learned on “Freaks & Geeks” that the more specific something is, the more it tends to resonate. So either actress Lake Bell knew this instinctively or it was just dumb luck that she chose to set her feature debut as writer/director (she also stars) in the world of voiceover artists. As an actress, Bell has been working steadily for a while now but it wasn’t until she fell in with the “Children’s Hospital” gang that she really seemed to be at home. The absurdist Adult Swim comedy has featured a wide array of comic talent in front of and behind the camera and the experience has really rubbed off on her first film, which is populated with many of her co-stars from the show.

In A World...” opens with a newsreel clip about the legacy and passing of the real-life king of voiceovers, Don LaFontaine. Responsible for the narration for over 750,000 television spots and 5,000 movie trailers, LaFontaine was the man who supposedly coined the phrase “In a world...” that would open countless film spots. The movie then weaves in new footage of peer Sam Sotto (“A Serious Man” star Fred Melamed), and up-and-comer Gustav Warner (“Children’s Hospital” co-star Ken Marino). Carol Sotto (Bell) is Sam’s daughter, a tomboy-ish vocal coach who specializes in accents but dreams of being a voiceover artist herself. From early on, she’s been told by her father that female voices are not what the public wants to hear in their trailers but he ups the unsupportive ante early on by saying that she can no longer live with him. (“I’m going to support you by not supporting you.”) Carol is 31 years old but she’s clearly in a state of arrested development, wearing t-shirts and hoodies and compulsively recording anyone around her that has an interesting accent she may be able to use for her library. Since she can’t quite support herself on vocal coaching alone she is forced to move in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and her husband Moe (Rob Corddry).

Audio engineer Louis (Demetri Martin) recruits Carol to record a temp vocal track for a new quadrilogy of blockbuster films called “The Amazon Games” (a "Hunger Games"-ish sci-fi epic) and she suddenly finds herself in demand for a whole string of voiceover jobs. Now she’s been positioned as legitimate competition against her father and Gustav, who don’t know that she's the hot new voice snatching up their jobs. The voiceover work itself then recedes into the background of the picture as a series of misunderstandings, jealousies and betrayals take center stage. While the romances and misunderstandings are a little sitcom-y, Bell’s direction is much more naturalistic and the performances are solid all around with additional supporting work from “Parks And Recreation” star Nick Offerman, newcomer Stephanie Allynne (who's wonderful as a spacey receptionist) and a cameo by Geena Davis(!). Bell is endearing as a lead actress but directs herself unselfconsciously, giving her character lines that belie her natural beauty. After donning a dress for a night out she’s told by her date, “You look like someone else,” to which she responds cheerfully, “Thanks.”

Comedian Demetri Martin is charming as the tongue-tied engineer who has a crush on her and both Melamed and Marino are delightfully convincing as ego-centric voiceover stars. The script (also by Bell) is a low-key charmer though it does have some tonal issues bridging more serious marital issues between Dani and Moe with some of the sillier stuff. Though not as consistently funny as one might hope, “In A World...” is still an endearing comedy and a promising debut for now-triple threat Lake Bell. [B]

This article is related to: Lake Bell, Sundance Film Festival, Review, In A World..., Reviews


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates