August 24, 2013

MOVIES: In a World... (Lake Bell, 2013)

Writer-director Lake Bell also stars as Carol, a voice actress who ekes out a living giving accent lessons and doing the occasional commercial; her dream is to break into the world of movie trailers, where women are very rarely hired. Among her chief rivals is her father, Sam (Fred Melamed), a legend in the business.

This is an entertaining look into an obscure corner of show business, and Bell's screenplay is charming and funny. She's also a very likable and charismatic leading lady, and she's done a fine job of surrounding herself with talented actors. Chief among them is Melamed, who is (as he demonstrated in the Coens' A Serious Man) a master of using serenity and calm as a form of passive-aggression attack. There's also fine work from Ken Marino as another voice actor, Demetri Martin as the co-worker with a longstanding crush on Carol, and Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry as Carol's sister and brother-in-law. (And Eva Longoria displays a nice sense of humor in a cameo appearance as herself.)

The romantic subplots for Bell and Martin, and Watkins and Corddry, do drag a bit, and are far less involving than the stuff set in the voice industry, but that central story is so involving and fascinating that the romance doesn't get in the way too badly.

I hesitate to say this, for fear that it will make the movie sound like a political polemic, but this is a seriously feminist movie about the importance, both literal and figurative, of women finding their voices. But rather than the angry screed that might suggest, In a World... is a lively movie that skillfully makes its political points in a delightful way.

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