Saturday, September 7, 2013

In A World...

I know the name Lake Bell but I don't really know why. I've never seen her in a movie or TV show that I recall. She's been in quite a few, but none that I've seen. "ER" but long after I stopped watching. Never saw "Boston Legal" or "Miss Match" or What Happens In Vegas. Never even heard of most of the rest of it.

Saw an episode of "Children's Hospital", I think. Parts of one.

But, you know, that's PR in this wacky biz they call "show". She's been working for over ten years, being the best friend in chick flicks or TV shows (I guess) and now she's decided to break out and write, direct, produce and star in her very own movie In A World...

We really, really liked it. Maybe even loved. Certainly like-liked anyway.

Bell plays Carol, a voice-over actress who's struggling to make it in the biz, and teaching young women not to talk like idiots—and in a nice cameo, helping Eva Longoria not sound like an idiot doing a Scottish (?) accent.

Wait, I should set the scene: It's modern day, and the movie trailer universe is still recovering from the 2008 loss of the great Don LaFontaine, the guy who created the legendary "In a world..." opening that's been so cliché. And the buzz in the industry is that a studio wants to bring back "In a world..." for their new Mutant Amazon Warrior trilogy (amusingly modeled after The Hunger Games).

Carol wants the job, but her father (the Serious Man himself, Fred Melamed, Fred Won't Move Out) is an old-time sexist who is particularly dismissive of her talents. He's not going after the part, mind you. He's backing up-and-comer Gustav (Ken Marino, who's also been on "Children's Hospital") instead.

But Carol kind of catches on fire, getting a number of good VO gigs, including a cartoon character, and suddenly it looks like she may turn her life around. I'll leave it there, because there's a nice element of discovery along the way. Not exactly twists but interesting developments.

I should note that while there's a lot of humor, and a nice brisk pace to the proceedings, this movie hangs on the charisma of Ms. Bell which probably will elude some people. She convincingly plays a woman who is somewhat insecure in a lot of ways, but confident at least in her professional abilities and good-at-heart.

I found her, and her movie, appealing.

There's a subplot involving her sister, played by Michaela Watkins (who's also been on "Children's Hospital", and her sister's husband/boyfriend, played by Robb Corddry, who plays the clown doctor on "Children's Hospital" and whom we recently saw in The Way, Way Back, and who's in danger of getting typecast.

But what's nice is that this, the relationship that develops between Carol and her (let's-call-them) suitors, the father-daughters relationship, are treated with a degree of humor but not carelessness. Speaking of typecasting, Melamed's character is a complete old-school, sexist ass, and some have objected to that.

But his character, while buffoonish in many ways, isn't one-dimensional. He's objectionable in a way that some (though hopefully not many) people are. Completely ego-driven, terrified his children—a daughter, no less—might possibly overshadow him, and starting out the movie by kicking out his daughter so he can shack up with a groupie, he is truly awful—but not incredible.

Even the groupie, played delightfully by Alexandra Holden, proves to have more depth and isn't just a prop for laughs.

Jeff Garlin has a small role as an MC at the VO award show.

Cameron Diaz has a cameo as a Mutant Amazon Warrior.

Geena Davis has small role. I didn't know how old she was. I didn't know she'd had so much work done to her face, either. I think she's considered a plastic surgery success story, too, but don't be fooled.

Stop messin' with yore faces, folks. It's...uncanny.

Comedy writers Tig Notaro and Demetri Martin have supporting roles.

Anyway, we all laughed and had a great time. It's not Citizen Kane, but it's not trying to be.

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