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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

In a World… review: the sound of her voice

In a World green light Lake Bell

A fresh, funny slice-of-life, casually cutting in its feminism and utterly charming in its storytelling.
I’m “biast” (pro): the trailer made the film look like a lot of fun; love Lake Bell

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

In a world where (some) men are chauvinist jerks just as a reflex and jealously protect their little professional boys’ club — no girlz allowed! — one woman dares to live her life and do her work as she pleases. All hail Lake Bell, writer, director, and star of this smart, simple flick, as charming as if it hadn’t a care in the world and as cutting as a woman taking down sexist bullshit needs to be. Carol (Bell: It’s Complicated) works on the fringes of Hollywood as a vocal and accent coach, but she dreams of doing voiceovers for movie trailers… a prestige gig that women simply don’t get, as her father, Sam (Fred Melamed: The Dictator), himself one of the top trailer voices, keeps reminding her. But when she accidentally falls into contention for a hotly contested job for a new action fantasy “quadrilogy” — resurrecting the “in a world” trope that epic films used to deploy for their trailer narration — Sam and his competition, Gustav (Ken Marino: We’re the Millers), are furious. But if women truly are not suited for trailer voiceover work, there’s no real competition from Carol to be worried about, is there? Bell’s best trick here is that this all feels like nothing more than a slice of Carol’s everyday life: neither character nor filmmaker are waging a campaign, just telling a story about a woman for whom an uphill professional battle and unfair assumptions about what she can and can’t, should and shouldn’t do are everyday obstacles, not extraordinary ones. (And it’s hard to overstate how refreshing it is to see a movie about a woman for whom romance is not central to her ambitions.) The rest of the cast — including Michaela Watkins (The Back-up Plan) and Rob Corddry (Pain and Gain) as Carol’s sister and brother-in-law and Demetri Martin (Contagion) as a recording-studio owner in Carol’s corner — is fantastic, and together they create a warm, funny portrait of a realistic woman with a complex, messy life. That Bell sneaks in a note about why it matters that women’s voices are heard, not only figuratively but literally, is just a bonus.

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In a World... (2013)
US/Can release: Aug 9 2013
UK/Ire release: Sep 13 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated GJWGSMW: girls just wanna get some meaningful work
MPAA: rated R for language including some sexual references
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong language, once very strong, and strong sex references)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Bluejay

    That Bell sneaks in a note about why it matters that women’s voices are heard, not only figuratively but literally, is just a bonus.


    Are you talking about what Geena Davis’ character says to Bell’s character, close to the end? I thought that was a refreshing thing to hear onscreen as well. But it was interesting how Geena complicated it: yes, it matters tremendously that women’s voices are heard… but it doesn’t mean Geena thought Bell’s character herself was the best person for the job. It touches on the whole “affirmative action vs pure merit” debate and the film doesn’t really resolve that, one way or the other (as far as I recall).

    …I just googled around and found what Bell had to say about it:


    So, yeah, interesting. And it’s yet another way that the film acknowledges the complex messiness of life.

  • RogerBW

    Oh good! Buzz has been positive but it’s good to have it confirmed.

  • That’s the moment I was referring to.

    I don’t think this is about “affirmative action vs pure merit.” I mean, what constitutes “best” in this case is not the same as, say, what would constitute “best” when you’re looking for a heart surgeon. The “best” voice for that particular trailer *is* Carol’s, because this particular job isn’t just about “skill” (which is a nebulous thing when it comes to voiceovers, and clearly Carol has plenty of the not-nebulous skill the profession demands) but about the image projected by the trailer.

    There would have needed to be other women voiceover artists competing for that trailer job before we could *really* talk about whether Carol “deserved” the job or not.

  • LaSargenta

    There’s also the possible background to Davis’s character: This woman who had to fight in the boys’ club, out of some unresolved fear still might be channeling the standard sexist assumption that the men’s voices are “best”. Even a feminist is still swimming in a patriarchal soup (varying degrees, depending on profession, country, luck, personal history, etc.) and can hold fucked-up ideas at the same time as fighting against them.

    It was a complicated moment. There were lots of complicated bits…or maybe some of those others were just rich, not complicated. For a breezy, fun film, it was very rich.

  • David C-D

    We hardly ever get to the movies, but there was this anniversary date-night opportunity, and this looked like the perfect thing.

    And sure enough, it was.

  • LaSargenta

    Btw, not to be a nit-picker, but linking Demitri Martin to https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2009/08/taking-woodstock-review.html (which he actually starred in) instead of Contagion would have been better. :-(

    On topic: As I wrote in the trailer thread for In a World, I really, really liked this movie and want Ms. Bell to keep making films.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I think MAJ had mentioned that the actor links are a script that pulls the most recent two mentions of the actor.

  • LaSargenta

    But, neither is mentioned in her reviews of those films…not in the tags, either. No mention of Bell in It’s Complicated and no mention of Martin in Contagion. In fact, it would only be possible if this script goes to the IMDB or official website for the movie and checks the full cast list.

  • singlestick

    Another movie to catch before it disappears. Thanks.

    Interesting connection between aspects of the film and the recent appointment of veteran BBC voice Charlotte Green to read the classified football results, another previously all male domain, even though Green had been previously lauded as “the most attractive voice on the airwaves.”


    Here, “attractiveness” is less about sexy as much as it is about being comforting, soothing, etc

  • I link to my reviews of the most recent films they’ve been in, even if I didn’t mention them in my review.

    I simply cannot list all cast in a review, or in tags, or go back to check and see if I mentioned someone in a review. I’m not the IMDB, I’m not trying to be, and this stuff all takes a ridiculous amount of time as it is.

  • LaSargenta

    I don’t expect you to. I didn’t know there was a script and I assumed (when I though about it at all) that what you did for those links was search your own site for mention of a person’s name in a review. Of course, now that I’ve thought abut it more, as you *can’t* mention all cast members in any review, it would have to be what Dr. RS and you describe. It came up here because I really liked Dimitri Martin in Taking Woodstock, knew that it was a debut main role, and remembered your great review of it. I’ve been keeping my eye out for him and hadn’t watched Contagion and you hadn’t mentioned him in your review…so…I posted what I did. Now I understand how that works.

  • Dokeo

    Finally got a chance to see this, and it was WONDERFUL! Great characters, great story, great performances, plus the social commentary gives you something to keep thinking about. More like this, please!

  • I completely adored this movie, one of my favorite movies of 2013. I will pay to hear Lake Bell read the phone book after seeing it.

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