In A World of male
dominated voiceover work…
‘In a world….’. It’s a phrase that became so associated with blockbuster film trailers during the 1990s that even now, long after the trend has faded into obscurity, those three words still garner enough public recognition that an entire film can focus on them with little need for explanation. The king of voiceover work of course, was Don LaFontaine, who was central to making the phrase stick in our minds around twenty years ago. LaFontaine passed away in 2008, but so integral was he to the world of voice work that his presence is felt throughout Lake Bell’s directorial debut In A World.
Carol (Bell) is the daughter of famed voiceover artist Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed), whose career has been so blessed that only LaFontaine himself has overshadowed him. Carol wants to follow in her father’s footsteps, but Sam’s own ego keeps him from showing any real support towards his daughter, especially since the industry ‘does not crave a female sound.’ Sotto instead aligns himself with brash up-and-comer Gustav Warner (Ken Marino), who shares his own misogynistic attitudes toward voiceover work.
Carol’s career prospects begin to look up when she gets the news that she’s being considered for trailer work for upcoming multi-million dollar quadrilogy ‘The Amazon Games’ (think The Hunger Games but more Amazonian). The real clincher is that it will be the first trailer since LaFontaine’s death to use the immortal phrase ‘In A World….’. Her success ignites an aggressively competitive streak in both her father and Warner.
Some people love the sound of their own voice, and Carol just happens to know a lot of them. In A World is at its most memorable when poking fun at the eccentricities of the voice-over industry. The people who inhabit this world refer to their work was such gravitas that it’s almost impossible not to laugh, especially after we become privy to their goofy vocal warm-ups. A particularly memorable scene involves a group of voiceover artists comparing jobs and careers at a party. It’s a generally unsung aspect of the world of Hollywood, and it’s refreshing to see a film treat voice work with such affection.
Unfortunately, the film rarely veers from formula that has long since grown stale in btoh the comedy and romantic genre of film, a shame since there’s such spark in Bell’s dialogue (she wrote the film as well as starring and directing). We’ve seen these characters before, countless times. In A World would probably have been more successful and definitely been more interesting had it spent even more time lampooning the naturally charming world of voiceover work.
In A World is a step above the average romantic comedy, thanks to the entertaining backdrop of the voice industry. Bell has an inherently pleasant screen presence, and her direction is remarkably assured for a first-time filmmaker. There’s just not enough new here to elevate In A World to anything more than a congenially entertaining film.