BY ISA MONTAGNESE
You might recognize Lake Bell as somebody’s sidekick or the way-too-hot other woman in every rom-com, feel-good film and raunchy comedy. But it seems she’s been paying her dues to the Hollywood gods while waiting to write, direct and star in her own story.
In a World… is about a young woman working as a voice actor and her struggles to try to be a successful lady movie trailer … person. The story follows her as she competes with her own dad, the No. 1 voice guy in town, to narrate the biggest trailer of the year. (*SPOILER ALERT* She gets the gig because she’s a lady and the trailer is for a movie about a lady. Classic lady problem. Sigh.)
My first reaction to this movie was, “Wow, Geena Davis is in it for a sec!” and my second reaction was, “Wow, a movie unapologetically about underrepresentation and inequality in Hollywood and other male-dominated professions! How did this film get made?” Well, Bell’s years of paying her dues paid off because lots of great and recognizable actors show up in this movie. I also think that because this film is more rooted in Bell’s character’s fascination with voices, it was easy to connect that character trait to a broader concept of women working in male-dominated professions. The other underlining theme was Bell’s apparent hate for women who “baby-talk,” or force their high-pitched voice. I’m really not sure why Bell felt the need to focus on one tiny annoyance instead of the bigger picture. She was going in the right direction with this movie for the majority, and then veered off into a tiny corner to preach about responsibility as a woman.
Even though this is a super specific example to focus a whole movie on, Bell makes In a World… a lot more about the characters and the father-daughter relationship than the message. It’s really an unusual movie posing as a usual movie, in a good way. A lot of standard plot points and storylines were there, but with twists and fresh approaches that made me hopeful for other movies from Bell.