Friday, September 13, 2013

In A World (Rhoades)

“In a World …”
Opens Up Whole New World for Lake

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Hollywood calls multitalented people “hyphenates,” a reference to their dual or triple roles. Lake Bell is now one of these. The actress has graduated to the title of star-writer-producer-director with her new film, “In a World …”

This is kinda like a circus performer who can ride a unicycle on a tightrope while juggling. A high-wire act that leaves us clapping when the acrobat doesn’t fall.

Lake Bell doesn’t fall.

This new comedy is a Hollywood insider story, about those unheralded announcers who do voice-overs for movie trailers. You know, the ones that often begin “In a world …”

Carol Solomon (Lake Bell) is a voice coach vying for her dad’s title as king of voice-overs. But her dad Sam Soto (Fred Melamed) wants to hand the crown to his protégé Gustav Warner (Ken Marino). When dad learns his daughter is competing with Gustav for the VO work on a film called “Amazon Games” he throws his hat back in the ring, setting up a three-way competition. Can Carol overcome the industry’s stigma against female voice-over talent?

Can Lake overcome the Hollywood system that favors male actors and filmmakers?

You bet.

Looking back, Lake’s mother is not surprised. Robin Bell shared this anecdote about her daughter with me:
“When Lake was three or four, Saturday nights at our house meant 'The Lake Lake Show'... so coined by Lake’s older brother, Luke. Lake would set small chairs in rows for an audience composed of Luke's friends and whomever else we had at dinner ... and it was show time! Every week, a new play. She was the announcer, the writer, the director, the star. And there were always costumes, sets, and music ... who knew!!???”

Yes, Lake Bell was a hyphenate at age three.

My longtime pal Paul Hale (Lake’s step-dad, married to Robin) emailed me about a month ago, proudly pointing out a review in The New York Times that described “In a World …” as a “smart, generous and altogether winning debut feature.”

Paul also noted that Lake’s film has been selected as “a NY Times Critic's Pick to boot.”
The New York Times review went on to say, “In some ways a late bloomer’s coming-of-age story (like so many screen comedies in the recessionary Age of Apatow), it is also, in no particular order, a show-business satire, a family drama, a feminist parable and a sweet romantic comedy. Not that any of these labels can do justice to the originality of Ms. Bell’s creative voice.”

Cool beans, as the younger audience might say.

In addition to the triangular competition between talented Carol, her silver-tongued dad, and a golden-throated suitor whose amorous advances are uninvited, we have an array of other Hollywood types. Infatuated sound engineer Louis (Demetri Martin), idiosyncratic coworkers Cher and Herners (Tig Notaro and Nick Offerman), and an imposing Katherine (Geena Davis). As well as a frustrated sister (Michaela Watkins), dumped-on brother-in-law (Lake’s buddy Rob Corddry), and her dad’s younger girlfriend (Alexandra Holden). Plus cameos by real-life stars Eva Longoria, Cameron Diaz, Joe Cipriano, and Jeff Garlin.

Here you’ll get to see a 2013 version of “The Lake Lake Show” with Lake Bell showing her stuff. Being funny. Doing accents (French, Italian, Cockney, Russian, Valley Girl). Entertaining an audience. Holding a meandering story together like a pro. And proving herself as a quadruple threat.

However, “In a World …” is really about something else, a world were women can overcome chauvinism, break into the boys’ club, shatter the glass ceiling.

But Lake modestly says she “just intends it as a comedy.”

Like her character in the movie, Lake Bell has found her voice.

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