This article is about the 2013 film. For the voice actor known for the phrase "In a world...", see Don LaFontaine.
In a World... is a 2013 American comedy film written, directed and co-produced by Lake Bell. The film stars Bell as Carol Solomon, a vocal coach intent on doing voice-over work for film trailers. The film co-stars Demetri Martin, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, and Tig Notaro. The film was a financial success, grossing nearly $3 million on a budget of less than $1 million, and received positive reviews from critics.
A king of voice-overs, Sam Sotto, has published an autobiography and is about to receive a lifetime achievement award. His daughter, Carol Solomon, is a struggling vocal coach who has always been overshadowed by her father. Sam kicks Carol out of the house so that he can live with his 30-year-old girlfriend Jamie, and Carol goes to live with her sister Dani.
Upcoming film series The Amazon Games plans to bring back the famous Don LaFontaine "In a world..." line and the trailer voice-over is highly sought after. Sam bows out so that his friend and heir-apparent, Gustav Warner, can assume the role. Gustav fails to show due to laryngitis, so studio engineer Louis asks Carol to provide a temp track. It gains the attention of the executive producer, who now wants Carol for the job. Carol also gets other work offers. She neglects to tell her self-absorbed father about her new-found success. Gustav and Sam feel entitled and are dismissive of the unknown woman who "stole" the job from them.
Due to her intrusive habit of recording guests for her voice archive, Carol is barred from the hotel where Dani works as concierge. Undeterred, Carol asks Dani to interview and record a flirtatious Irishman who is a guest at the hotel.
Carol joins Sam and Jamie at a party thrown by Gustav in his mansion. Carol wanders around admiring the artwork. Gustav flirts and she ends up staying the night. Dani is working late again, although she is supposed to meet her husband Moe for dinner. While waiting he listens to the intimate recording, where his wife pretends to be single. He is shocked. When she arrives home, he is listening to the tape again and again, and quietly walks out.
Rumors spread quickly about Carol and Gustav. Gustav boasts to Sam of his night with some party-crasher, and when he learns she is the woman in competition for the job, decides to keep pursuing her, still not fully realizing who she is.
Sam and Jamie host a meal for his daughters. It comes out that Carol is the mystery woman in the running for the coveted job. Sam is indignant, furious at Gustav, and dismissive of Carol, causing her to leave angry. Sam vows to compete for the job himself. Dani is distraught about her husband, and Carol secretly records her anguish, sending the message to her husband to help win him back.
Competition for the job heats up. All three must send recordings for the studio to decide. Carol is ready to drop out but Louis champions her cause, also explaining that he likes her. Carol admits she likes him, too. They work together to produce the audition recording, then party together afterwards, and at the end of the night Louis finally kisses her.
Though still angry at her father, Moe insists that Carol and Dani go to the Golden Trailer Awards, where he is due to receive a lifetime achievement award. There the trailer for The Amazon Games is revealed; Carol got the job. Carol is elated. Sam storms off. Jamie berates him and threatens to leave him if he does not grow up and show support for his daughters. Sam is magnanimous in victory, dedicating the award to his daughters. In the bathroom, Carol encounters the executive producer, who bluntly tells her she was not the best person for the job, but was chosen for the greater meaning of having a woman in that role. Carol continues her work as a voice coach, helping women to speak less like a "sexy baby" and be taken more seriously.
Lake Bell as Carol Solomon,
Fred Melamed as Sam Sotto,
Michaela Watkins as Dani Solomon,
Ken Marino as Gustav Warner,
Demetri Martin as Louis,
Rob Corddry as Moe,
Alexandra Holden as Jamie,
Nick Offerman as Heners,
Geena Davis as Katherine Huling,
Eva Longoria as herself,
Tig Notaro as Cher,
Stephanie Allynne as Nancy,
Jason O'Mara as Mr. Pouncer,
Talulah Riley as Pippa,
Melissa Disney as Melinda Chisney,
Olya Milova as Mimi,
Corsica Wilson as Stacy,
Yelena Protsenko as Alla,
Carly Chaikin as Excruciating,
Janicza Bravo as Snacks,
Marc Graue as himself,
Joe Cipriano as himself,
Mark Elliott as himself,
Don LaFontaine as himself (archival footage),
Jeff Garlin as himself (uncredited),
Cameron Diaz as herself in trailer for The Amazon Games (uncredited),
According to Bell, there are almost no notable film trailers that have employed female voice-over talent except for Gone in 60 Seconds, which used Melissa Disney. Bell had been intrigued that the prototypical "omniscient" voice behind film trailers was male. This inspired her to write a story in which a female protagonist sought to overcome this prejudice, resulting in her feature-length writing, directing, and producing debut.
The title of the film was inspired by the phrase used by Don LaFontaine to start many film trailers.
Bell wrote the screenplay with particular people in mind, hoping they would be interested in the project, explaining, "I was inspired to cast not only people who are great comedians but ... who have a complex life ... I knew that there was a profundity there that I wanted to tap into."
Filming took place over 20 days in Los Angeles. The Scientology Celebrity Center was used as a location.
Other locations include The California Club, the lobby at the Biltmore hotel, and the KCET Studios.
The sound studio scenes were filmed at The Marc Graue Voice Over Studios, Burbank. Studio A, Studio 4, the hallways, reception area, kitchen and the upstairs entrance to Studio 3 are all shown.
Bell did extensive preparation work before the film, bringing lengthy notes. She deliberately filmed using shots in the style of a drama, although the film is a comedy.
The "nose kiss" scene was suggested by Ken Marino, and it made Bell laugh so much she told him he would need to do it twice.
The film was well received at the Sundance Film Festival and it was picked up by Roadside Attractions for North American domestic distribution, and by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions for international distribution.
The review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 92% based on 106 reviews. The site's consensus is, "A funny, well-written screwball satire for film buffs, In a World... proves an auspicious beginning for writer, director, and star Lake Bell. The aggregator Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 79/100 based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised Bell, writing that she "plays Carol with a perfect blend of diffidence, goofiness and charm, has written and directed an insightful comedy that is much more complex and ambitious than it sometimes seems." While noting that Bell is a former contributor to the publication, The Hollywood Reporter's Tod McCarthy comments that the film is a "a lively, sometimes very funny comedy" that offers an "amusing peek into a seldom-visited corner of showbiz," that is the world of Hollywood voice-over talent. McCarthy describes Sam as "genial and intimidating" and Carol as a "charming, neurotic live wire" who is also "shapely and quick-witted." Carol "has great delivery herself and is wonderful with accents and dialects," according to McCarthy. McCarthy notes that "all the actors pop with well-defined personalities," but that Melamed "formidably dominates" the film. British critic Mark Kermode praised the film for its "sharp and very snarky" humor, said it "has just enough bite, and stays on the right side of bitter," and reserved special praise for Melamed, whose performance he called "absolutely brilliant." He also praised Bell for avoiding the smug, self-serving insider view that other Hollywood films fall foul to, and the well observed characters, and although he does not think it will be a huge hit, says he thinks it deserves to do well. According to National Public Radio, "Underneath the comedy, it's a moving story about female empowerment," with Bell's character Carol serving as voice-over industry counterpart to Rocky Balboa.
John Anderson of Variety notes the picture achieves its most important goal of making the voiceover industry something of interest to a broad audience. He describes it as "a rollicking laffer about the cutthroat voiceover biz in Los Angeles" and "a film with too many laugh lines to be absorbed in one sitting." Anderson describes Bell as a "magnetic, intelligent, blithely screwball leading lady in the Carole Lombard tradition."
According to polls conducted by CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a B+ rating.
The film opened in three theaters on August 9 with a total gross of $70,980, making it the weekend's number one in terms of overall per-theater-average gross ($23,660). Roadside Attractions planned to gradually expand, and roll-out the film to more theatres.
In a World... won Best Screenplay at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it debuted on January 20. Bell said she felt she had already won simply by being accepted for competition at Sundance. Bell was nominated for Best First Screenplay at the 2014 Spirit Awards. Bell was honored with the Breakthrough of the Year Award (shared with Joshua Oppenheimer -- The Act of Killing) and was listed in the Best Actress top 10 honorees by the Dublin Film Critics' Circle.
The film was recognized by the National Board of Review as one of the top 10 independent films of 2013.
Sundance Film Festival
Dublin Film Critics' Circle Awards
Breakthrough of the Year
Lake Bell, (co- with Joshua Oppenheimer)
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards
Best Woman Director
Best Woman Screenwriter
Best First Screenplay
The song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by the band Tears for Fears is featured in the film and plays over the final credits.
Warren Griffin, Nathaniel Hale, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Warren G. featuring Nate Dogg
"Out of Touch"
Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook
"Greazee, Part I & II"
James Alexander, Billy Preston and Fred Smith
Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor and Raymond Douglas Davies
Sebastian Taylor & Momi Ochion
"Get a Move On"
Lloyd Chiate, Paul Collins and Edward Mahoney
"Mädchenlied, Op. 85, No. 3"
"Give It to Me Baby"
Lawrence Ernest Black and Thomas Michael Jenkins
"Love Plus One"
"Right Down the Line"
"It Was a Good Day"
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
Christopher Merrick Hughes', Roland Orzabal and Ian Stanley
Tears for Fears
"Brother F Ups"
In addition to the soundtrack above, the score, which was written by Ryan Miller of Guster, was released on September 24.