It’s a character-driven comedy that gets most of its oomph from an unusual inside-Hollywood setting, that being the apparently cutthroat world of movie trailer voice-over performers. Who knew they were more egomaniacal and insecure than movie stars?
Yes, Bell’s comedy is an eye-opener but her bisecting romantic triangles and farcical family melodrama are a bit frayed at the edges. “In a World …” displays all the erratic marks of a first feature by a filmmaker who hasn’t quite learned how to harness her talents to the demands of a different medium.
Bell herself is most convincing as Carol Solomon, a vocal coach who lives with and in the shadow of her overbearing father, Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed), the reigning king of trailer voice-overs.
The latter isn’t easy since, as Carol has bitterly learned, the voice-over business is a tiny, high-competitive, male dominated sphere. And in landing those jobs, she is considered a “thief” by voice-over hotshot Gustav Warner (Ken Marino).
The movie then gets tangled up in romantic dalliances and misfires involving a smitten sound engineer (Demetri Martin), her neurotic sister (Michaela Watkins), her sister’s frustrated husband (Ron Corddry) and even Gustav himself — never mind that it makes no sense for Carol to go to bed with him.
These subplots are best ignored in favor of letting the crazed world of voice-over performers with their snappy one-liners, overly vocal parties and own awards ceremony — the Golden Trailer Awards — wash over you.
It’s just like regular Hollywood only more contained and even more insecure.
Bell and d.p. Seamus Tierney have discovered some of the ugliest stretches of the San Fernando Valley to film this comedy, which only adds to the amusement.
The great things here for potential producers and investors is that Bell has gotten those first-feature blues out of her system and should make a much better, more structured film next time.
Opens: August 9, 2013 (Roadside Attractions)
Production company: 3311 Productions
Cast: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Nick Offerman, Tig Notaro, Alexandra Holden
Director/screenwriter: Lake Bell
Producer: Jett Steiger
Director of photography: Seamus Tierney
Music: Ryan Miller
Editor: Tom McArdle
R rating, 93 minutes