Film Review: In A World

Shot on a shoestring but with plenty of heart, this light romantic comedy about a handful of fiercely competitive L.A. trailer voiceover actors vying for an important gig while confronting personal issues has its moments, but satisfies more as an insid

Lake Bell, a busy actor who has directed shorts, shows off plenty of stretch with her debut feature, In a World…, in which she wears multiple hats. A far cry from the tough young woman she portrayed in her most recent film, the engaging horror indie Black Rock, Bell here is more romantic and comedic as a rising L.A. voiceover actor. The production is modest, but viewers attracted to biz-themed films will have some fun and wear some smiles.

Bell is Carol, a struggling, early-thirtyish performer who primarily makes her living as a voice coach and lives with father Sam (Fred Melamed), one of the best-known trailer v.o. veterans in the field. But the father-daughter bond is fraying. Sam is competitive and senses Carol gaining ground on his territory. He advises her to stick with the accents at which she excels.

Worse, he’s finally gotten a commitment from hotsy girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) and is having her move in. This development requires that he tell Carol to find new digs, a demand that forces her to crash at the apartment of her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry). What Carol does not know is that Sam has taken under his wing up-and-coming voice star Gustav (Ken Marino), a born-to-wealth actor who bonds with her dad at the gym.

Carol lands her first trailer voiceover gig with the help of sweet sound engineer and v.o. director Louis (Demetri Martin), who has a serious crush on her. Carol even outplays Gustav for the gig and lines up some other trailer jobs, thus proving she’s a player.

When Gustav throws an industry party at his fancy digs for fellow actors and handlers, Carol attends. She pokes around and finds a secret entrance to Gustav’s getaway in the house. When he encounters her there, the two start flirting and end up in bed.

Louis is crushed when he gets word that Carol slept with Gustav but doesn’t at first betray his feelings. Enduring a more serious romantic setback is Dani, whose husband walks out after he discovers that his wife, who works in hospitality at a hotel, has been flirting with a guest.

A more pressing precipitating event comes by way of a big opportunity for voice actors, when production of a huge four-part film project titled The Amazon Games is announced that will bring back the “In a World...” trailer gimmick that made a now-deceased legendary voice actor’s rendition of that phrase iconic. The race is on to get that major trailer job, with Sam, Carol and Gustav the front-runners. Louis takes on the task of coaching Carol and, well, things happen personally and professionally as they tend to in nice films like this.

In a World... is mild entertainment that provides a credible look inside the trailer voice world and its actor populace that makes do on the fringe of Hollywood and the big time.