Making the Grades
Lake Bell stars, directs, writes and co-produces In A World… In the film she plays Carol, a struggling vocal coach who dreams of nabbing the biggest gig in the voiceover announcing—movie trailers. After the passing of Don LaFontaine, the real-life king of the industry who made the three-word title of this film iconic, the voiceover throne sits open and awaits a new arrival. Boldly going where no woman has gone before, Carol is determined to claim the crown.
Her father will be the first to tell her how foolish her aspiration is. Sam (Fred Melamed) is already an acclaimed voice actor. And while the aging man sees his career coming to a close, he is convinced a woman’s voice simply can’t sell a movie. Fortunately Carol has a large support group that feels otherwise, including recording engineer and friend Louis (Demetri Martin). When he uses her voice on a client demo tape, it suddenly begins to attract the attention of creative decision makers. With her career unexpectedly taking flight Carol enjoys her newfound success. But it also places her in a difficult competition with her father and another male voiceover artist named Gustav (Ken Marino), whom she unwittingly spends a night with after attending a party at his home.
Families are, obviously, not the target of this R-rated production. Amongst the scenes of industry jargon and ego-bashing are two romantic side-stories. One is the aforementioned night of impulsive sex. The other involves Carol’s married sister Dani (Michaela Watkins), who is tempted to take up with a handsome foreigner staying at the hotel where she works. No details of either of these interludes are seen but some detailed sexual dialogue is heard afterward. As well, expect to hear frequent profanities including nearly a dozen sexual expletives (some used within a sexual context), crude anatomical terms, references to Christian deity and other profanities.
Admittedly In A World… is a movie that will be best enjoyed by movie geeks, industry insiders and… film critics. Bell, with relatively little Hollywood experience, must certainly be praised for taking this concept of three voice artists vying for a prize (that many audience members will care little about) and turning it into an engaging, fun and enlightening romp. Few seasoned filmmakers can fill all four key production roles of a movie and turn out something this watchable. But what makes this movie appealing enough to review within the context of Parent Previews is its view on gender stereotyping in the media. Simply put, why do we really need a deep, booming, manly voice to convince us to see movies? Not likely in Lake Bell’s world.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about In A World….
One of the most popular voice-over actors behind movie trailers, and a man who prefect the phrase, “In a world…”, is Don LaFontaine. How is his legacy used as a jumping off point for this script?.
Why aren’t women part of the movie trailer voice over industry? Are they less capable? Why are most GPS voices female? Where do these gender biases stem from?
Here’s a New York Times article that provides some additional insight into the voices of movie trailers.
And here’s a short film that puts the most famous voiceover artists in one limo.
This film features cameos of some famous faces including: Cameron Diaz, Demetri Martin, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Geena Davis, Nick Offerman and Eva Longoria.