The rare movie in which everything clicks, the comedy "In a World..." has many charms, the principal one being its quadruple threat, Lake Bell (writer-director-producer-star), who has fashioned a very small, potent script-driven comedy out of the vagaries of the voice-over business in Los Angeles.
By sight, Bell is best known for TV's "How to Make It in America" and "Childrens Hospital," but she also knows the ins and outs of the voice-over world, which is where Carol Solomon (Bell), daughter of movie trailer legend Sam Sotto (the walrusy Fred Melamed) has been trying to make her mark. And failing wildly.
The title comes from the movie-trailer standard ("In a world out of control/powered by violence/gone mad...") that was made famous by the real-life Don LaFontaine, whose death has caused a shift in the hierarchy of trailer voices. Who will emerge triumphant? Sam? The melodious Gustav Werner (Ken Marino)? Or Carol, who suddenly starts getting gigs courtesy of her engineer, Louis (Demetri Martin), who'd like to see her get ahead because he also likes her?
What makes "In a World..." stand out is wit: The humor is at times silly and ridiculous but elsewhere sophisticated and nuanced and it would pay to see it in a theater where you can actually hear the dialogue because the laugh lines get buried in laughs. "In a World..." is not a message movie -- Carol is trying to conquer the tyrannical patriarchy of the voice-over business, yes, but she'd really like to move out of the apartment of her sister and brother-in-law (Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry) and become an adult.
That's not a new theme for a movie, certainly, but Bell makes it feel that way.
PLOT Having languished in her bombastic father's shadow, an underachieving voice coach starts to get some breaks.
RATING R (pervasive language, including sexual references)
CAST Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino
BOTTOM LINE Lake Bell is a charmer, and her small-bore movie is full of laughs.