In a World… where comedy is rooted in reality

I was very pleased that the Michigan Theater belatedly brought the movie In A World.. to Ann Arbor. Something about this movie stood out to me when I became aware of it over the summer. I’m not sure if it was the striking image of Lake Bell prepping a voceover that serves as the film’s poster, something about a news article or publicity item I read, or something else entirely, but I wanted to see it, and even considered making a trip to Royal Oak specifically to see it at the Landmark – but then I learned it was on the calendar at the Michigan.

Versatile actress Lake Bell served as writer, director and star for this film, clearly putting much thought and heart into the project. Bell has an appealingly everyday screen presence, though this was perhaps enhanced by a dowdy wardrobe and several “aw, shucks” character choices. I think what made this film stand out to me was her choice to root the comedy in a very real situation, which is something I feel like films don’t often dare to choose.

In this case the plot revolved around the trials and tribulations of making it in the voiceover industry, which is something I’ve had some observational – but not direct – experience of over the years. Bell confronts the reality (and it is a reality) of no women ever voicing movie trailers – and decides to do something about it. With the help of some friends and colleagues. And … her father. Sort of. Who is also a bigshot in the industry and has his own networks and goals. 

The film cast a light on the (occasionally narcissistic) competitiveness of the performing arts industry – and actually acknowledged that trait! I give Bell big props for being willing to go there with her work while finding a resolution to the storyline. She also poked some fun at Los Angeles culture – and made me miss it (though I will be back there, briefly, in February.) I’m not sure her plot really needed several dramatic interludes that felt like padding in the wider scheme of the film, but she led the character arc to a suitable and thoughtful conclusion. Her script was peppered with extensive witticisms and frequent industry in-jokes that I appreciated.

I’m sure this film will stand out on my year-end list.