Lake Bell is an ever growing Hollywood surprise. Her career started with generic hot girl roles, like Alec Baldwin’s young trophy wife in It’s Complicated. She proved to be an hilarious comedy actor in the amazingly funny TV show Children’s Hospital. She did a great job in the horror, thriller, crazily intense Black Rock. And now, she’s really knocked it up a notch, writing, directing and starring in a little, indie comedy, that keeps getting talked about by all sorts of critics who’s opinions rarely steer me wrong, In A World.
As Carol, Bell is a vocal coach, helping people like Eva Longoria say things like “fink” instead of “think” when she’s playing a cor blimey cockney. Her father Sam (Fred Melamed) is a legend in the voiceover industry, and he’s recently taken on voiceover hotshot Gustav (Ken Marino) as his protégé. When it’s announced that a big Hollywood studio is going to launch their new quadrilogy blockbuster with a trailer using the phrase “In a world…”, the entire voiceover community of Los Angeles scrambles to get the gig and take their career to the next level. Including Carol, Sam and Gustav.
Also tied up in Carol’s world are her sister and husband (Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry). They have a whole side story about Dani’s flirtatious relationship with a work colleague, but I really don’t know why it was there, except for the fact that Watkins and Corddry are pretty entertaining and likeable whenever they’re on screen.
Bell, Marino and Corrdry have all proven how funny they can be on Children’s Hospital, so the great work they do here was no surprise. What was a surprise though, was Fred Melamed as Carol’s Father, Sam. The way he milks ego and pompousness for laughs makes him the best part of In a World, in a cast of some of the best comedy performers working today. But the more I think about it, the more I shouldn’t be surprised, because he showed the exact same scene stealing chops in the Coen Brothers way too under seen A Serious Man.
In a World may seem like the flimsiest premise you’ve ever heard for a movie. A meme-tastic phrase, taken from one of the most niche careers you’ll find in a movie this side of Katherine Keener as a poet in Enough Said. But star, writer and director Lake Bell, makes it about more than that. And I don’t even just mean the gender inequality stuff either. In a World is about a woman making it in a man’s world and all that, but it’s also about caring about your work, and making a difference in the world through that work, even if it seems as inconsequential as doing the voiceover over on a terrible looking movie’s trailer. And to a degree, it also seems to be about Bell’s apparent real life hatred for grown woman who talk like “sexy babies”.