“Who’s ready to be heard?” asks Carol (Lake Bell) at the conclusion of “In A World.” Since this film stars and is written and directed by Lake Bell, for my money Lake Bell is more than ready to be heard and as a movie-goer, I couldn’t be happier.
Bell is Carol, a member of “voice-over” royalty. She makes a living as a vocal coach, but longs to do more. She wants to do voice-overs like her father, Sam (Fred Melamed). Unfortunately a career in voice-overs is dominated by men, especially when it comes to feature films. With the death of the king of voice-overs, Don LaFontaine (LaFontaine is a real person and the film starts with a terrific homage to him), there is now a window of opportunity for winning the prestige jobs. Two men are vying for LaFontaine’s crown–Carol’s father and his much younger colleague, Gustav (Ken Marino). Neither of them give Carol a second thought until…
Bell covers a lot of territory in a 93 minute film, but the movie never feels rushed. It just flows naturally and effortlessly. Along with the voice-over story, Bell interweaves other storylines. When the movie begins, Carol is living with her father. But because he wants his much younger girlfriend, Jamie (Alexandra Holden), to move in with him, Carol is forced to live with her sister, Dani (Michaela Watkins) and Dani’s husband, Moe (Rob Corddry). The ying and yang of her sister’s and husband’s relationship feels very genuine as done the one Carol has with her sister. In fact, some of the film’s best moments revolve around the “sister code.” “In A World” also spends a lot of time in Carol’s workplace with her co-workers Louis, Cher and Heners (Demetri Martin, Tig Notaro and Nick Offerman respectively), and those scenes are especially funny.
“In A World’s” ensemble cast is terrific. Many of them have either a standup or improv background and it shows. The universe they create seems very real and relatable. Eva Longoria, playing herself, proves to be a very good sport as one of Carol’s clients, trying to speak with a British accent. And if you pay close attention, you’ll see a cameo by Cameron Diaz in a very funny bit.
Lake Bell is a familiar face on television and film, often the vixen, but never the star. With “In A World” she proves to be a triple threat and a force with whom to be reckoned. I can’t wait to see what she does next. I can’t wait to hear her roar.