Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Alexandra Holden, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Tig Notaro, Eva Longoria, Jeff Garlin
Written by: Lake Bell
Directed by: Lake Bell
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references
Running Time: 93
Date: 08/09/2013

In a World... (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Trailer Clash

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lake Bell makes a very promising feature writing and directing debut with In a World..., pulling herself out of mediocre movie parts by the bootstraps. As a performer, she's spot-on, at the same time goofy, charming, witty, slightly damaged, and yet adorable. Her screenplay hangs in there from sheer will alone, juggling many different subplots and themes, somehow keeping them all in the air.

After the death of the great (real-life) movie trailer voiceover artist Don LaFontaine, the playing field is leveled. Sam Soto (Fred Melamed) and the younger Gustav Warner (Ken Marino) hope to resurrect LaFontaine's famous "in a world..." phrase for a new trailer for a high-profile Hunger Games-like epic. But Sam's daughter Carol (Bell), a voice coach currently working with Eva Longoria, throws her hat in the ring, stirring up family tensions as well as romantic ones: Carol gets caught between her competitor Gustav and the kind, nerdy sound engineer Louis (Demitri Martin). To make matters worse, Carol's sister (Michaela Watkins) is having troubles with her husband (Rob Corddry). Will Carol get the job and set things right again?

As director, Bell's best aspect is this juggling act, giving her actors plenty to do, and keeping things moving at a good clip, and beautifully rendering the microcosm of the voiceover world. On paper there might just be one too many romantic or job-related crisis, but she slips in some easy one-liners or some extra beats, and things never get too hectic. When Bell finally gets the chance to slip in some good, strong ideas, she does so with ease and grace. You just want to cheer for her.

Sony's Blu-ray release comes with a very welcome commentary track by the smart, funny Bell, as well as a short gag reel, some funny promos, and deleted scenes. The picture quality is fine, and the audio, understandably, emphasizes the voices. The disc also includes trailers for some current and upcoming Sony releases.

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