Sundance London 2013: In A World…

Lake Bell’s spritely ensemble comedy is full of wit and satire.

American actress Lake Bell makes her directorial debut by writing and starring in this infectiously charming and clever comedy drama, set in the world of Hollywood voice-over talent. It begins with a tribute to the late Don LaFontaine, the man famous for the titular introduction to many an epic, before amusingly introducing some of his fictional peers.

Bell plays Carol, a voice coach to the likes of a cameoing Eva Longoria (who has some hilarious scenes as the star of a Cockney gangland drama). In her early thirties, she still lives with her father Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), one of the most revered names in trailer voiceover work. When Sam wants his latest young girlfriend to move in (a wonderful and surprising Alexandra Holden), Carol moves into the cramped apartment her hotel receptionist sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) shares with husband Moe (Rob Corddry). Elsewhere, at the sound studio, adorably awkward sound engineer Louis (Demetri Martin) is harbouring a crush on the goofy, tomboyish Carol.

When Carol records an emergency voiceover for a trailer, a hilarious story of pride, rivalry and gender politics unfolds as she becomes the hot contender for the coveted job introducing ‘The Amazon Games’, a huge female-centric franchise that’s set to bring back LaFontaine’s legendary ‘In a world…’ introduction. Carol even being considered for the job is a huge affront to the slimy new star in V.O., Gustav Warner (Ken Marino), and when the lothario throws a bash in his pad, complications ensue. Elsewhere, Dani is getting in a fluster over a dashing Irish hotel guest (Jason O’Mara), whose voice Carol desperately wants to record for her growing collection of accents.

That all these characters and scenarios work so well together to build a such a spritely ensemble comedy is credit to Bell’s exceptional script, full of wit, satire and emotion. The chemistry between all actors is electric, and the cast excel with the physical farce aspects. Bell finds time to flesh out all of her many creations, and the marriage crisis of her sister is beautifully handled - Corddry is quite brilliant, dramatically.

Bell excels at the everywoman slightly failing at life in a vanity-free performance from an actress usually associated with glamour. Decked in dungarees and dated tartan skirts, sporting unstyled hair and minimal make-up, Bell allows her innate warmth and personality to shine in a fantastic comedic role that showcases her astonishing vocal talents. There are some great cameos; the aforementioned Longoria, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, and one we wouldn’t want to spoil towards the end. A rich, triumphant and hugely entertaining film that overcomes some limited, dark photography to be the deserved winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

Rating: 8/10