Thursday, 2 May 2013

Sundance London 2013: In A World... Review

Director/Writer: Lake Bell

Starring: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Alexandra Holden, Nick Offerman

Synopsis: Since the death of industry legend Don LaFontaine the position of the new voice-over star is open. Daughter to a highly-regarded trailer narrator, Carol (Bell) wants to follow in the footsteps of the greats by competing for a highly-coveted voice-over job on a new and popular film trailer. 

Less known over here in the UK, many British audiences will still appreciate the basis of In A World... – the infamous voice-of-God that plays over various movie trailers. “In A World...” was the catchphrase of Don LaFontaine (watch this Youtube video for a brief, and hilarious, overview of Don’s career) and has defined that side of the movie industry. Lake Bell’s film follows a group of announcers trying to fill the man’s shoes by competing for a trailer job of Hunger Games box-office proportions.

The underdog story – in which Bell’s Carol plays the underdog – is a clich├ęd and formulaic narrative. In this regard, you can easily foresee the ending of In A World... leaving it less original than it thinks it is. Bell’s writing is sharp at points yet never of the standard required for cult or commercial success. The concept is an amusing alternate view of Hollywood, but still bogged down by stock characters and plot.

Bell as the writer, director and lead has not let the pivotal positions go to her head and, if anything, her part seems to be least memorable. The side story of her sister and brother in-law, played by Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry, respectively, develops the story better than most arcs (Corddry never better and mightily pushing the film forward). It’s then the job of Fred Melamed and Demetri Martin to provide the majority of laughs.

Bell does pen herself some great zingers though it’s usually at the expense of others (Valley Girls, for example) rather than an isolated achievement. She’s cute and clever – a great feminist figure in the film and out – surely to garner greater attention after this. However, there’s nothing that special about her writing or screen-presence (as harsh at that seems). The best thing to take from In A Wolrd... is the ability to compare it to her progression in the film industry and her future auteur efforts.

A moderately entertaining directorial debut with solid editing and casting. Some may find the fresh perspective on jobs within the film industry rousing and funny, but there are far better examples of it.

By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on LiveForFilms

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