‘In a World…’ is a sweet and boldly random comedy stemmed from the awkward and brilliant brains of Lake Bell. Unafraid to be delightfully weird, Bell steps up the cinema ladder with purpose. Her triple threat endeavor written and directed by hers truly features Carol (Bell) in her moment to finally shine in the voiceover world under the shadow and competition of her unsupportive father (Fred Melamed), an icon in the voice acting community. Finally snagging a film promo after vocal coaching with little reward, like not affording rent and crashing with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and husband Moe (Rob Corddry) with their own problems, Carol wants to move up in her career. Surrounded by her father’s pessimism and lifestyle that feels toxic to her while the industry throws her challenges, Carol bumps along trying to make it and literally be heard.
Bell's ‘In a World…’ doesn’t mask the sense of dreaming. Carol’s character might make the hard freelance lifestyle seem worthless to start (she looks a bit of a mess, and lives as such), but as we grow to know that she wants her career to take off so badly, it’s an encouraging thought that carries the film. Her interactions with the well-molded cast, especially sound studio Louis (Demetri Martin) who crushes hard on her, are sweet as hell as she talks with careless whimsical abandon. Not to mention covertly recording strangers’ voices for research wherever she goes that adds an obsessive element to an underachiever, making her look both crazy and warmly passionate at the same time. And what is surprising and refreshing is having a theater of middle age and up viewers applauding a slightly younger film. Who knew? The mix of gender and stereotypes pumps this up, putting a nice emphasis on Carol as a female in a part of the industry where men’s voices live large.
It’s hard to say what ‘In a World…’ is more about on some note though. Is it more of Carol’s journey and romances, or overcoming the father/daughter comparison, or fitting in throughout her many roles in career, family, and love? What might be expected is more entirely Carol and what we get is a bit of everything that in some ways works wholesomely but in other feels detached. Some scenarios, like Dani and Moe’s marital wandering-eyes problems, are more involved in a distracting way that Carol plays little part in. But despite a strangely mooded opening sequence of Don LaFontaine found footage set to jazz, Bell made a fine film, like an ode to a masterful scatterbrain. We might not want to borrow Carol’s wardrobe, or attend the same networking parties that end you in a secret closet with your nasty nose-sucking rival (yes), or have the same dad who dates women your age, but we’re convinced all the same: Bell’s got something and we’d like more please.