2½ Stars — Weak
In a World ... became one of the most recognized phases in movie promotion, even though most people don't have a clue who said it. The phrase was made famous by the late, great voiceover artist Don LaFontaine. In this wacky gender-challenging role, writer, director and star Lake Bell plays Carol, the daughter of one of LaFontaine's runner-ups as best known voiceover artists in the movie business.
With LaFontaine dead, the question is now open as to who is the next greatest voice of this generation. Carol's father, Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed), is certainly in the running, and in fact is about to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming Golden Trailer Awards, a sort of runner-up event to the Oscars.
Also in the running is Gustav (Ken Marino), a pompous young talent that Sam sees as his heir apparent as well as the son he never had. The one person who never shows up on this list is Sam's daughter Carol, even though she has inherited Sam's gene pool of talent. Carol is chided by her father for trying to enter "a man's world," evoking a kind of 1960s chauvinism 50 years beyond its time. Sam not only speaks as a male from Mad Men, but he lives out his relationships in the same way, having divorced Carol's mother and taken up with a girlfriend the age of his daughter.
Carol's talent is great, though, and it is encouraged by a fellow voice-industry colleague, Louis (Demetri Martin), who is both charmed by her and is the builder of her confidence. Their comic and sexual chemistry help her grow into a mature human being and professional artist.
The plot thickens when it is announced that a Hunger Games-type of series is about to be produced in Hollywood, and the producer is going to bring back the memory of LaFountaine and begin the trailer with the famous words, "In a world ... ." This is the moment for stardom for the next greatest voice of a generation!
To achieve this blockbuster entrance, the producer, played by Geena Davis, sets up a contest between Sam, Ken and Carol. Sam and Ken are shocked, and a variety of escapades ensue.
It doesn't take long to find out who wins, and it is, ironically, at the Golden Trailer Awards — the same show that is giving Sam his Lifetime Achievement Award — where the announcement of the winner is made. Sam, exhibiting the maturity, or lack of it, to which we have become accustomed, cries like a baby. It is here where Sam has to suck it up and make a decision whether to be an adult or not.
In a World ... may not be a great commentary on father-daughter relationships, but it does provide an opportunity for healing within one wacky family. It is also an amusing look at a part of Hollywood that most of us take for granted. This movie may not make your top 10 list of forever favorites, but it will entertain you through a bag of popcorn.
» The sexist limitations often placed by men on women has created a pervasive injustice. What are you doing to break down those walls?
» Having confidence to use her obvious gifts came to Carol through the love of a man. What do you think the filmmakers were saying by this?
» The importance of the voiceover artists are often underestimated. How much do these artists matter to you in enjoying a film?
— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.