It’s a nice small gift to the world when someone cool like Lake Bell makes a great first movie and puts great people in it. In A World… is wonderful and niche, even though the title suggests something of huge, epic proportions. It’s actually about the voice-over community, or rather, a romance and a comedy and a drama built into the voice-over community, which is something that I believe Bell herself is still trying to break into, even after years in Hollywood. Anyway, her character, Carol, is the daughter of the understood successor of the guy who made the phrase “In a world…” synonymous with movie trailers. With me so far? (It makes far more sense in the context of the movie.) This father, Sam (Fred Melamed), is kind of a dick but has incredible pipes, and is very reluctant to accept his daughter into the “family business.” There’s a larger issue of misogyny that is brought up, too, since voice-over is (yet another) male-dominated field, though not one that springs to mind when you think sausage fest. Interesting nonetheless. So there’s that issue.
Carol’s sister, Dani (Michaela Watkins), and her husband, Moe (Rob Corddry) exist in this limbo state, where they have the routine down and they love each other, but they’re just bored and rut-stuck. What I love about their plot line, though, is that their lives don’t follow the path you’d expect. Dani is the one who deviates and Moe is the one left heartbroken. Suffice it to say, they actually get themselves a happy ending (with Moe apologizing, which made no sense to me), but the performance that Corddry gives is really worth noting. Bell gave him all the hilarious punchy one-liners, first of all, but not so many that his eyes can’t invoke true sympathy when he learns just how his wife is getting over her boredom. He’s maybe the best part of this movie.
Bell also gave several snappy quips to Tig Notaro, who plays Cher, one of the many employees at the sound studio where she records. Other misfits include Nick Offerman and Demetri Martin, who plays her love interest while still maintaining his same ridiculous haircut. I don’t want to like him, but I can’t help it. He’s so pleasant.
If all those name-drops weren’t enough, there’s one more worth noting; I’ll leave the rest of the appearances to your surprise, as I’ve already spoiled enough. Ken Marino plays Gustav, the younger, hipper heir to the VO throne, and Sam’s (and later Carol’s) direct competition. He’s got the prick act down by now, having honed it in basically every movie after Wet Hot American Summer. I just wish he’d be a Ben Stiller type in a movie, once. One time. That’s all I’m asking. Anyway, his regular voice isn’t so incredible, so it’s clear he’s lip synching to some of his lines, but it’s no matter. Bell knows what’s important. She had Gustav shirtless for a significant portion of the movie. And I’ve made the decision that Marino should be shirtless in every subsequent movie. It’s vapid and shallow, but it’s necessary.
Back to this blog post for a second. I assume you were staring at the picture? You’re welcome. It’s from Burning Love. I’m delighted to see a specific topic covered so well on the big screen. It’s clear that voice-over is very near and dear to Bell’s heart, and she makes it approachable without sacrificing specific references; in fact, several big VO guys make cameos as themselves. I hope that In A World… serves as a model of sorts for other writer-directors with unique interests. (We’ve all seen the rom-coms with the banker guy and the magazine-writer girl. Enough is enough.)