Monday, September 16, 2013

IN A WORLD...Where A Woman Makes A Really Likable Directorial Debut...

Now playing at an indie art house near you...

(Dir. Lake Bell, 2013)

There are quite a few things I really liked about this film, the directorial debut of Lake Bell, who also wrote, produced, and stars.

First off, I liked the premise: Bell is a Los Angeles vocal coach who gets a chance to break into the male dominated profession of doing voice-overs for movie trailers when the powers that be decide to bring back the “In a world…” phrase that used to open seemingly every preview.

Next, I liked the cast that populates the film including Fred Melamed as Bell’s father, a voice-over legend second only to the real-life late Don Lafontaine, comedian Demetri Martin as Bell’s co-worker who has a crush on her, Ken Marino (The State, Party Down) as a slimy voiceover talent who Melamed is grooming to take over his position, Micheala Watkins (SNL) as Bell’s sister who’s married to Rob Corrdry (The Daily Show, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE), and Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation), and comedian Tig Nattaro as cynical sound engineers.

I liked Bell’s screenplay, which is full of good lines, well observed insights into this little explored segment of show business, and relatable characters.

I liked the third act cameos that I won’t spoil, the composition of many shots by cinematographer Tom McArdle, and that it taught me that the Golden Trailer Awards, now entering their 14th year, is a real event.

Yes, Bell’s IN A WORLD is a very likable movie.

Previously, Bell has appeared in such TV series as The Practice, Boston Legal, and Children’s Hospital, or in films like IT’S COMPLICATED, WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, and the recent thriller BLACK ROCK, but she’s never really stood out.

Here Bell really earns the spotlight with her relatable neurotic lead portrayal and by crafting a comedy that’s inventive, unpretentious, and as appealing as she is.

Melamed, who has appeared in 8 Woody Allen films and put in an acclaimed performance in the Coen Brother’s A SERIOUS MAN, makes the most of his juicy role here. With his character’s vanity largely on display (and embodied in his young girlfriend Alexandra Holden), Melamed never fails to amuse whenever he’s on screen. 

When Melamed finds out that his daughter may be up for a major trailer voice-over gig for a HUNGER GAMES-esque quadrilogy, the one that’s going to bring “In a world” back, he calls off his retirement to compete with Bell and Marino for the job. His parental pettiness, especially as he's on the verge of accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Trailer Awards, is hilariously palpable.

Unfortunately, more on the sitcom side is a subplot involving Watkins coming close to cheating on her sandwich obsessed hubby Corrdry, but that bit of comic conflict doesn’t get in the way of the fun here – in fact the way it wraps up features one of the film’s funniest and touching moments.

So again, Bell's film is extremely likable, but more importantly it's a refreshing low key comedy that cares about its characters. In a world (sorry) of excruciating amounts of blockbuster bombast, that's really something to embrace.

More later..

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