"This movie is essentially a lob that Bell knocked out of the park."
"Dimitri Martin is a terrible actor."
"I was shocked that Dimitri Martin was so good."
To start, I was really attracted to the premise. We get a look at a oft ignored piece of show business centered around a phrase that has been incredibly prominent. Don La Fontaine was a voice that everybody recognized, but likely couldn't put a name to. I thought the resurrection of his famed 'In a World...' line was a brilliant approach to the film. The film presents the voice-over business in a way that appealing and interesting to both movie buffs and general audiences, which is a big part of what makes it such a success for me.
In a World... revolves around Carol Solomon and her relationship to the voice acting world. She's a genuinely likable character... quirky, witty, intelligentWhen we first see her she's simply a voice coach, knowing she has the ability to play a bigger role in the business if it wasn't such an exclusive boys club. I like that Carol getting her first big voiceover gig wasn't made into a slow built climatic event, but just a subtle 'this happened' moment over the phone. It didn't feel like it was forced upon the audience, but a natural show that women do have a voice here... which is clearly a major theme in the movie.
Carol's relationship with her father is essentially the personified version of her relationship to the industry. She's always kept at arms length, and hardly has any support. Of course, there's more to her family dealings that that, but it does come back around when we see Sam dedicate his award to his daughters. It doesn't feel sincere to me, he's just using them as a tool, just as the industry (represented by Geena Davis) used Carol's female voice for the quadrilogy.
The supporting characters are also well defined and each gives us distinct and fleshed out personalities. Their involvment makes the story feel like more than just a daughter's battle to get out of her father's shadow and limitations.
Bell was great in the lead role. She delivers the personality in detail and has fantastic timing. She provided plenty of comedic moments and, I thought, managed extremely well with her Fred Melamed stood out as Sam Sotto, delivering his lines with the perfect tone and temperment. And look a flip phone like Jon's! Ken Marino does well in a familiar type of role (Wet Hot American Summer, East Bound and Down), but adds something extra with his voice as well. Demitri Martin and Rob Corddry fit in well their normal awkward roles. Nick Swanson's mustache fell of, but Nick Offerman is always solid. The cast did a suberb job overall, and showed a great deal of chemistry.
I think that chemistry added to an already good dialogue. Conversations felt natural and, more importantly, realistic. The inclusion of some quick wit ('If a beanie baby could talk..') and repeat jokes ('excited or farting') were subtle and well done. They reminded me of the kind of wit we experience in real life... it's there, but not over the top like in something such as Juno.
I'm guessing any major issues with this movie will come with the side stories. Sure, we can do without the romance between Carol and Louis, but it allows her personality to be on full display (away from work) and also Louis comes in as strong support for the female voice... even if in a sort of cliche way from his speech. We don't really care abotu Jamie, but this also fleshes out Sam world. And most of all, Moe and Dani. On its own it can seem completely out of place and a secondary plot altogether. But I think both characters, as well as their relationship, play a very important role in Carol's life and support system. They also round out the entire family plot with Carol, Dani and their father. It's still a slight distraction because it seems so distant from the main focus at times, but isn't a huge negative for me.
Technically, I think Bell did a great job directing. I didn't feel like any shots were off or misplaced. The cuts felt right, with no clunkiness. I mentioned the dialogue, but i really think that was a strong point of her script that deserves attention. I think it's an incredibly strong work, not just for a debut, but in a general light.
I found myself laughing, sometimes audibly others just a light chuckle... which scored major points for the film. We've discussed comedy enough to know how that works if a viewer isn't feeling it's humor. More on point though, I was feeling Bell's message. Extending the female voice in such a well done and intelligent way works well here. While she apparently felt the need to drive it home in the last seen while she's coaching the women, I don't think it was over the top or to strong.. but meshed well with Carol's journey throughout the movie.
I feel like could go on to more, but I need to wrap this up for now. I can see this getting a pretty wide array of grades, and feel I may be higher than most (if not all) here. I initially graded this as an A when I saw it a few months back, and feel comfortable sticking to that. I truly enjoyed this movie.... from the acting, to the humor, to the dialogue, to the plot and overall introduction to the voice over business. From the initial voice mail from Louis and Carol's play on it, to the final moment of female empowerment, I was in. It wasn't perfect or a masterpiece, but it's a damn fine film, and one of my favorites that I've watched this year. Grade: A