Monday, August 04, 2014

A Worldly Film

Lake Bell is a talented actress, but hardly a household name. I first became aware of her during her stint in the main cast of Boston Legal, a TV series with a revolving door of secondary cast members you'd definitely recognize from other places. Naturally funny, and conveying a winning personality, I figured she'd be going on to bigger things. And though it seems audiences still haven't generally caught on, she has gone on to bigger things, donning both the writer's and director's hat for her low-budget indie film In a World...

Bell stars in her own film as an part time vocal coach (and part time slacker) who half-heartedly dreams of following in her father's footsteps as a voice-over artist. When she unexpectedly fills in at a recording session, she suddenly breaks into the business and soon finds herself in the running for a major film franchise. Will she become the first person since voice-over legend Don LaFontaine to open a trailer with the legendary words: "in a world..."? Will she sabotage her own burgeoning success with her own romantic pitfalls, or those of her sister?

In a World... definitely wields a light touch. It's a fun and quirky little movie, and its subject matter definitely caters to film enthusiasts like myself. (The sort of people who know who Don LaFontaine was without having this movie explain it to them, for instance.) It's hardly a laugh out loud affair, but it does put a dopey smile on your face throughout its breezy hour-and-a-half run time.

Yet the real draw here is the cast. There aren't really any A-listers here (outside of a screwball cameo appearance in the fake trailer revealed near the end of the movie), but there is a very deep bench of skilled actors with great comedic chops. There's Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Eva Longoria, Jason O'Mara, and still more recognizable character actors. Fun accents and self-conscious "trailer voice" abound, to wonderful effect. And as director, Lake Bell deftly presides over it all.

It's a shame the movie didn't get more attention outside the film festival circuit. But it admittedly has niche appeal. The fact that it got made at all is probably good enough. I give it a B.

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