In A World ... Directed by: Lake Bell Cast: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Ken Marino, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry, Geena Davis Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 16, 2013 (Chicago)
PLOT: A rising female voice-over artist (Bell) competes against two lead male voice-over kings (Melamed and Marino) for a shot at voicing a pivotal movie trailer.
WHO'S IT FOR? Tired of showbiz comedies about white male problems? You might want to take a look at this one ...
It would surprise no viewer of In A World ... if it were revealed that this story was originally about filmmakers, as opposed to its focus of voice-over artists. With its on-the-nose statement about "Who's ready to be heard?" as its coda, this is a film about the waves of female filmmakers who really need to keep on keepin' on, for the sake of eventually someday tipping the gender scale in the White Guy Land that is Hollywood's current state.
Bell's idea of using an actual "voice" is one that plays out well with her directorial debut because it turns out that voice-over artistry is quite funny to witness, and makes for a certainly more creative center than seeing another Hollywood movie about filmmakers trying to make movies. Though we recognize the voice of late voice-over master Don LaFontaine (and his classic phrase of which this film gets its title) we haven't seen a view into his own world. This film's biggest jokes come from the ridiculousness that can be witnessed within this movie's niche, the vocal exercises and the seriousness that is put onto any type of gig. This goofiness, like out of a Christopher Guest observation, is brought to entertaining light by the film's lead males, Fred Melamed and Ken Marino.
A lighter delight of the this movie's comedy come from the meet-quirky of Lake Bell and Demetri Martin, who have a slow burning chemistry of their combined dork-ness. Bell's character, an audiophile with an overly comical fascination in voices, doesn't need a love interest, but Martin proves to be a welcome person to share harmless screen-time with. In a position that could be relegated to being just a simple rom-com tool, he turns out to be a little more special than that, his presence not stinking of convenience.
Bell's script shows its largest imperfections with a subplot that involves Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins as a dissipating couple who both have their temptations, with one of them finally given in. At best, this segment provides a shift in typical gender roles for screenwriting, but it doesn't work well in the big picture. It does, however, give Corddry the opportunity to have the film's funniest line.
Bell previously appeared in Katie Aselton's awesome male gaze-killer Black Rock, the two sharing aggressive moments that were essentially primal. Working in the lighter, more accessible genre of a comedy, Bell has the same type of vigor to her attitude now in her own movie. But what's most interesting about this film's obvious call for a revolution is the standards it sets for such a cause. In A World ... states that change can only reached with a certain type of individual; this is a revolution with standards. For example, you can't sound like a "sexy baby" no matter what. On top of this, change can't be made by black-or-white changes, but ones in grayer realms. A particularly surprising scene with Bell and Geena Davis in the bathroom provides a curious glimpse into this. It provides a strong example of this movie's curious thesis - how dirty do women have to get to get ahead in this world, and out from the shadow of men?
In a unique ruling, Bell earns her cheesy metaphor of "having a voice" considering the creative quality to be found within this movie's overall expression. In even its simpler successes, a film like In A World ... is certainly the type that will nudge female voices closer and closer to challenging the monopoly in this male-dominated business.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10