In a World…

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In a world USE

Lake Bell (center) and Fred Melamed driving to a Hollywood party.

What a brilliant woman this LakeBell is. Instead of being relegated to playing the supporting best friend in movies and TV shows, she wrote, directed, and stars in this quirky comedy that I just adored.

The first five minutes I was angry, because I had gone into it thinking it was going to be a documentary about the voice over industry. Everybody knows the story of the late Don LaFontaine, the man who was making millions a year starting movie trailers with those famous three words: “In a world…”

Bell wrote a story about a bunch of cutthroat voice over artists – some of them in the same family – and she used comedic actors I love that are unfortunately, not household names. The ensemble includes Ken Marino and Rob Corddry (from her show Childrens Hospital); Demetri Martin, Nick Offerman, Jeff Garlin, and even Tig Nataro! Those are all great comedians, but you also get Geena Davis and Eva Longoria in a few scenes, and Fred Melamed. He was in many Woody Allen movies, and was last scene as one of the evilest around as Sy Ableman in A Serious Man. He is also funny as the smug shrink in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Well, guess what? He is even nastier in this movie, and what’s great about the casting is – he’s actually a well-known voice over artist in real life. You can hear him on CBS Sports, the Olympics, Superbowl, Mercedes Benz spots, and many others.

LakeBell plays Melamed’s daughter, and she’s trying to carve a niche in the voice over world. He isn’t the most supportive father, and he’s rather patronizing as he compliments her on the variety of accents she does. And as cute as we think it is when she does a stormtropper from Star Wars with a Russian accent, we get the feeling he doesn’t. He wants to move in the groupie girlfriend he’s seeing, so he kicks her out. She moves in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins). Dani’s husband (Rob Corddry) has a great relationship with both of them, which all makes this such a pleasant surprise and extremely unique. This is a quirky comedy with characters ultimately show they care about each other. Couples might have a nice relationship, but still have some fights.

A bad filmmaker would’ve had this character move in, and the brother-in-law immediately complaining about it. Instead, he’s rather supportive, funny, and even tries to be supportive of their overbearing father. This is a very witty movie, written by a person that has a talent for screenwriting.

That doesn’t mean her feature film debut isn’t without a few rookie mistakes, but who cares? We are given a world of characters that aren’t one-dimensional. You’ll wish you could spend two more hours watching their shenanigans.

A friendship with Demetri Martin, who’s a sound engineer at the studio, might blossom into romance. Yet since nothing about this is predictable, we sit there watching, waiting, hoping…unlike you never end up doing in movies. Even their awkward sleepover was completely believable and not like a bad sitcom.

This movie is so original, that the only joke I’ve seen used before was a parody on The Hunger Games. Yet even that ended up working.

There’s a scene that I won’t spoil for you – but Bell, who is obsessed with getting various accents on tape – is recording an apology from somebody. She says something about tips into the tape recorder that is so funny, I didn’t stop laughing for a minute. It was as funny as the pompous actor Alan Alda played in Crimes and Misdemeanors, where he constantly talks into a tape recorder when an idea pops into his head (here’s a link to a funny scene in which he does that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ7_RrZPqv0).

It’s crazy that a first time filmmaker has me mentioning Woody Allen in my review, but this material is that strong.

As much as I love Miranda July films (Me and You and Everyone we Know, The Future), her characters are too quirky. Bell can be a bit strange and flakey, but it seems real.

Obviously, people in the film industry and radio will like this movie more, but it’s not too inside that everyone won’t enjoy it.

It’s amazing that a week after I’ve seen the movie, I can still recall at least 15 funny scenes. There was a secretary trying to prove she’s smart by saying, “I love to read, so…I’m always reading. It’s important.”

There’s another character feeling self-conscious about leaving a message on the answering machine of a person that does voice overs.

We see Bell constantly running into women that talk like little girls. To some, she just imitates them while talking about where to get a smoothies. Sometimes she’s less patient, simply stating “I didn’t know a Beanie Baby could talk!”

The movie gets extra points for a man trying to win a woman over, and along with the candles and dinner he made – we hear Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down the Line.

Please, I beg you – go see this movie. Everyone is going to rant and rave about how you should see The Butler, which is a very flawed film. Yet indie movies like this are so hard to get financed and made, at least if people go to see it, we might get more quality films in the future. And you can stop leaving me voice mails that say I don’t like anything. I liked this!

It gets 4 stars out of 5.

8 comments

  • Mark Stewart

    Josh, I'm with Jo. I have never heard of this movie either. You review many movies such as these. It would help if you noted where your audience can catch these movies which dont get as much airtime advertisement. If I see a movie most of the time its because Ive seen the advertisement on tv. What can I say? I've seen many of these types of reviews from you that I never heard and/or didnt know where they were playing. Thanks

  • joshboardfox5

    That's a good point Jo and Mark. Well, each week I review the big blockbusters. I also try to see as many of the indie and foreign pictures as I can. Rarely will a week go by where I didn't review the biggest film of that weekend. For example, The Butler was the big money winner the last weekend. And I'm guessing the top 3 money makers, have been reviewed. Yet…what makes it easier to review a lot of these smaller pictures is — they have multiple screenings for us, or they'll send us a DVD screener, so we can watch it at home. If studios want to do that, I figure the least I can do is write the review (and if I really love the movie, I'll mention it on air at the end of the review for the big blockbusters). As to why I don't list the theatres they're playing at — I figure if somebody is interested they can find out. Usually the indies/foreign films are at the Landmark Theatres (La Jolla, Hillcrest, Ken Cinema on Adams Avenue). Often times, the Reading Gaslamp will carry a small picture, too.

      • joshboardfox5

        I know this specific movie is playing right now at the Hillcrest Landmark theatre. I saw it a second time the other day, with a friend of mine that is in radio and does a lot of voice-over work. I thought they'd appreciate all the inside stuff about that business. You'll enjoy it too. Go see it.

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