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Originally published August 22, 2013 at 1:29 PM | Page modified August 23, 2013 at 7:55 AM

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‘In a World ...’: a quirky character comedy

A review of ‘In a World ...,’ a surprisingly charming comedy about the lives of voice-over artists.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3.5 stars

‘In a World ...,’ with Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, Alexandra Holden, Tig Notaro. Written and directed by Bell. 93 minutes. Rated R for language including some sexual references. Several theaters.

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This is an amazing cast, and it looks like a really cool project. Lake Bell is an unde... MORE

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Lake Bell’s “In a World ...” does something rare in the realm of movie comedy: It takes us inside a world we didn’t know existed. That world is made up of voice-over artists; those plummy-toned gentlemen who we hear over the crashing music of movie trailers. In this movie, we meet an assortment of them, young and old, as they hang out in saunas (the better to keep the voice nicely lubricated), swap horror stories about blown takes and mellifluously fret about the competition.

That competition, surprisingly, includes one woman: Carol (played by Bell), a vocal coach struggling to get a toehold in the male-dominated voice-over business. Though in her 30s, Carol lives with her father, Sam (Fred Melamed), himself a legend in the voice-over world. Wanting more room for his shrill-voiced girlfriend (Alexandra Holden), Sam kicks his daughter out (“I’m going to support you by not supporting you,” is his rationale), sparking a series of life changes for Carol: a move to the home of her sister (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law (Rob Corddry), a fling with a velvet-voiced cad (Ken Marino), a romance with a sound engineer (Demetri Martin) and unexpected career success.

“In a World ...” is clearly made on a bare-bones budget, and it’s the kind of low-key movie that vanishes from memory relatively quickly. But watching it is an unexpected pleasure. Bell deftly blends romantic-comedy convention with more quirky touches, and the result is a movie full of delicious bits: Eva Longoria, playing herself playing a Cockney pirate (she, not surprisingly, needs Carol’s vocal coaching); Stephanie Allynne as a perfectly grainy-voiced receptionist (making comedy gold of the line “I love to read, so I’m, like, always reading. It’s important”); a first kiss that, in a world of movie first kisses, feels genuinely, unexpectedly sweet.

Bell establishes herself here as a vivid new voice, in more ways than one.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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