In a World... review (DVD)

Who knew that voiceover artists could be as egomaniacal and as insecure as actors? Their backbiting and treachery know no bounds in this sunny LA-based romp. That behaviour though does not come from Bell playing lead protagonist Carol, however.

The writer-producer-director gives a charming performance as a voice coach with a prodigious talent for accents. She scores a big gig doing the booming cliched "in a world" movie trailer for an upcoming  fantasy "quadrilogy". Unbeknown to her, though, this job has already been passed over by her hairy, egotistical pa (Melamed) who is encouraging his smarmy protegee (Marino) for the gig. Both men play legends in their own lifetimes in the specialised world of voice over trailer artists. They are certainly over confident of their talents with equally misguided ideas of their own importance. Carol's father is possessed with delusional grandeur – though he has no trouble attracting a woman half his age to be his new girlfriend (Holden) much to the disgust of Carol and her sister Danni (Watkins).

Bell deftly juggles numerous subplots to this basic mix. Carol for example is being pursued by her agent (Martin) for a date while Danni is experiencing marriage problems with husband Moe (Corddry). The ensemble cast are all terrific, with Melamed especially effective as the patriarch. He gives a fully rounded portrait of an ultimately pathetic individual who is by turns both intriguing and embarrassing. The awkward interplay between him and his two daughters is a joy to watch and the performers have a loose camaraderie that is very winning.

In a World... doesn't score huge belly laughs but it will bring a smile to your face. This lighthearted insight into the voiceover profession is done with fondness and humour and Bell's nimble direction keeps the numerous plot strands bubbling along most engagingly. It's a piece of froth of course but what gives the movie depth are the strong, very believable characterisations. The performers pierce the material with smart precision – they are all of a piece and rise it above what could have been sitcom fodder. There's nothing plastic or ingratiating about Bell's effort. The effects she achieves are honestly won. She's conjured a most amiable affair that is well worth your time.

EXTRAS ★★★ An audio commentary with writer-director-star Bell; nine deleted scenes (13:55); a gag reel (3:48); and six In A World... promos (5:18).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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