In a World... Movie Review
After playing comical sidekicks in rom-coms like No Strings Attached and What Happens in Vegas, Lake Bell emerges as a rising-star filmmaker with the smartest, funniest comedy of the year. Winner of the screenwriting award at Sundance, this script is painfully hilarious, drawing on the characters' personalities to take us into a previously unseen side of the movie industry. It's also a rare Hollywood movie that refuses to shy away from anything.
We're talking about voiceover artists here, specifically those who provide the rumbling commentary for movie trailers. The late Don LaFountaine was the voice behind all of those iconic "In a world..." trailers, and now a studio wants to revive them for a new epic quadrilogy. The top contender for the job is Sam (Melamed), a veteran who decides to let his protege, the egotistical womaniser Gustav (Marino), have the job. Then Sam's voice-coach daughter Carol (Bell) throws her hat in the ring, which is unthinkable because a woman has never narrated this kind of trailer. She prepares for the audition with the help of a love-struck sound engineer (Martin), but is distracted by issues between her sister and brother-in-law (Watkins and Corddry) and the fact that her dad's new girlfriend (Holden) is younger than she is.
Bell juggles all of these plot strands brilliantly as a writer, director and actor, generously giving her costars the most riotously funny dialog while Carol pings around between them. And since we see everything through her eyes, she emerges as a hugely engaging woman who is smart, skilled and also likeably flawed. Every performance is natural and amusing, with the kind of astutely witty dialog actors can really sink their teeth into. And there are some uproarious cameos along the way, including Offerman as a wry colleague, Davis as a studio head, Longoria as a vocal client and Diaz as the star of a Hunger Games-style saga.
It's the kind of movie we want to watch over and over again, because the gags come so quickly that we can't possibly catch them all. But since it's all centred on believable people, the film also draws us right into the story. We identify with all of Carol's hilarious antics as she almost accidentally navigates through the chaos around her, dealing with touchy subjects, relational baggage and some surprisingly dark moments. This is a rare movie that's both gut-wrenchingly funny and also packed with layers of meaning.