By Andrew Harwood
In a world where people feed off the buzz and culture that surround films, movie trailers offer exciting pieces of insight into upcoming cinema productions.
The compilation of scenes within a film provides audiences a sneak peak at an upcoming feature. Trailers are what largely encourage an audience to see a film.
Given this basis, it makes the most sense to talk about a film about film trailers, as well as about the industry of voice-overs. That’s why our film for this week is Lake Bell’s 2013 film, “In a World…”
Written and directed by Bell, “In a World…” tells the story of Carol, played by Bell, a down-on-her-luck voice coach and aspiring voice actress who lives in the shadow of her father, the voice legend of Hollywood. As Carol tries to break into the industry her father more-or-less created, she faces sexism and a plethora of other obstacles that ultimately make her contemplate the worth of it all.
This film appears to be an homage to the love of films, given how its title derives from voice actor Don LaFontaine’s infamous trailer opening. At the same time, the film behaves as a satire of the entire industry as well. This is done with caution, given that the film features a predominantly star-power cast.
Where “In a World…” shines is in its humour. It’s witty, flagrant and precisely timed, all of which help drive the character of Carol, who stands as one of the main sources of such comedy.
Despite the impressive humour, the film fails to fully immerse the audience. This isn’t to say it fails to capture the attention of a viewer, because it doesn’t, but instead of featuring the realistic struggles within the industry, the film throws success at our protagonist.
Given this, the plot progresses in a rushed manner, something that isn’t made any better by the frantic side stories of Carol’s sister’s questionable marriage. A simple story — or what seemed too simple at first — becomes a convoluted mess by the 30-minute mark.
The mess of pacing and storytelling, though distracting and frustrating, does help make each joke more satisfying. In a film that turns out to be anchored by its comedy, it’s an utter shame to recognize that’s all it has going for itself. Well, maybe not exactly all, but probably its most principal aspect.
Aside from the comedy, “In a World…” features a classy performance from Bell as well as a grand cameo from Nick Offerman, who provides additional surreal observational humor. This duo still suffers from the frenzy of bland characters and dialogue that exists outside of their bubble.
To give the film more credit, which it deserves nonetheless, “In a World…” is a highly original concept, something that would typically go unexplored by most filmmakers. Herein lies praise for Bell, who herself indulged into a passion project to showcase the greater themes of sexism and prejudice in the Hollywood film industry.
Though these themes become lost, it’s still enlightening to see such a concept take off, especially back in 2013, when films of such sort were not very popular.
Regardless, “In a World…” speaks to an audience for the sole purpose of being heard. At its heart, the film is a dissection of finding one’s voice in a world dominated by fakeness. What grows out of this heart, though it might not be deemed favorable, is a precious and funny tale of coming out of a shadow to make one’s way in the world.