In a World...
It was voiceover artist Don LaFontaine who immortalised that simple phrase that became synonymous with film trailers – he narrated more than 5,000 before he died in 2008. His baritone echo lives on in YouTube clips, and now in this hilarious debut from Lake Bell.
In a World... is partly a sharp comedy (with feel good romantic elements), but also an affectionate tribute to the voiceover world. Lafontaine’s absence opens a spot for a new trailer champion – the rivals are Ken Marino, Fred Melamed and Bell. Crucially, Bell is using her vocal cords as a weapon against a male-dominated firm. So there’s more than pride at stake, especially as it’s so well pronounced.
Bell isn’t a newcomer to cinema. If you haven’t heard the name, you probably recognise her as the quirky best friend from a few lousy romcoms. Knowing that, it’s easy to be sceptical, but In a World... is tremendously sharp and witty. Bell takes upon duties as director, writer and lead, so there’s a sense that it’s all her vision – one that she’s spent years developing.
The voiceover world is ripe for comedy; observe the “Break a lung!” punchlines and absurd vocal exercises. Luckily, Bell’s astute script has a joke every other line – all without emulating a sitcom. In the lead, she sells every line with perfect timing and verbose exuberance, while adeptly flexing her larynx muscles.
Perhaps Bell is aware herself of what it’s like to be a talented performer, but reduced to a one-liner exposition-laden best friend. This might be why the ensemble cast have their own killer lines and personalities, meaning zingers bounce around like a vocal pinball. The list of scene stealers includes Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Rob Corrdry and, remarkably, Demetri Martin as a romantic male lead.
Bell's passion is obvious, in both the subject and craft. It should just be a slight comedy, but it leaves a timeless aura. The retro soundtrack stops the comedy from feeling dated; it's shot in LA, but you never see a palm tree. The credits open with “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, and all I could think is that Bell has a promising career as a writer and director – and one who can narrate her own trailers.
United States of America
93 mins approx