Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 58 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Aug 8, 2013
    Ms. Bell, who 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.
  2. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Apr 23, 2013
    To call Lake Bell a magnetic, intelligent, blithely screwball leading lady in the Carole Lombard tradition might be selling her short. With In a World… , a rollicking laffer about the cutthroat voiceover biz in Los Angeles, she proves herself a comedy screenwriter to be reckoned with.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Aug 15, 2013
    Before this movie, Lake Bell seemed to have a nice and comfortable career path ahead of her. She was an actress who always provided a spark, whether the vehicle was mundane or first-rate. Now, she’s a name that provokes keen anticipation. Can’t wait to see what Lake Bell the filmmaker does next.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 8, 2013
    It’s hard to imagine the lives behind the voices that are part of the movies. But In a World ..., the debut feature from actress-turned-writer-director Lake Bell, not only gives the people who do movie voice-overs a closeup, it savvily and wittily uses what we hear as a metaphor for what we are.
  5. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Aug 21, 2013
    An ambitious comedy with not-negligible dramatic depth, but Bell, a first-time feature writer and director, is frankly too generous with her large cast.
  6. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 15, 2013
    In a World . . . is a lot of fun, reflecting Bell’s own obvious love of piquant paradox and the music of the spoken word. But it also has a sharply observant streak that makes it as nourishing as it is endearingly nutty.
  7. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Aug 6, 2013
    With so many ideas to work with, why does Bell infantilize her elsewhere-confident main character as yet another disheveled woman-child?

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 15
  2. Negative: 5 out of 15
  1. Aug 9, 2013
    Using the oft overlooked world of voice-over as a backdrop, Bell has delivered a film that is an important social satire without the snobbish condescension which that designation may imply.

    Read the full review here:
  2. Jan 24, 2014
    Lake Bell's film is surely one of the most charming comedies to come around in recent memory. The writing is snappy, the performances are surprisingly nuanced (Bell, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Fred Melamed, and Robb Corddry should be praised), and the premise is fresh. Most impressively, it manages to stay quirky and sharp without being overtly pretentious. It's an auspicious debut from an apparently very talented writer/directer/actress. Expand
  3. Feb 23, 2014
    In terms of freshness, this entertaining comedy is unique. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever explored the behind-the-scenes world of the voice-over artist. Many films have shown the trials and tribulations that thespians have to bear when the camera is rolling, but rarely do we see what goes on inside the sound booth. Lake Bell is the director, screenplay writer, and star of this film. She is a gifted mimic who can do a number of authentic-sounding accents, and has apparently been experimenting and practicing since childhood. This film provides her with a perfect vehicle to showcase her prodigious talents.

    The story focuses on a young voice actress (Bell), who is trying to make a name for herself in the male-dominated world of voice-over. Her own father (Fred Melamed) is a living voice-over legend, and although he patronizes his daughter and encourages her to continue with her activities as a voice coach, he is extremely critical of her talent and dismisses the idea that she can ever achieve the same stature as her father. The film opens with dad telling his 30-year-old daughter, who is still living at home, that his young mistress is moving in, and he would appreciate it if she moved out that evening. She can't afford her own place, so she packs up and moves in with her married sister (Michaela Watkins). She then begins the daunting task of competing with the best male voice-over artists in Hollywood, stealing jobs from under their noses, but her real challenge is when she has to compete against her own father.

    The movie is inspired by the late Don LaFontaine, who, unknown to most moviegoers, is the most legendary voice-over artist who ever lived. He is famous for his melodious baritone voicing the introductory words, “In a world...,” a phrase that is said to be owned by his estate, although it is unclear how such a mundane phrase can be owned by anyone. In the invisible realm that exists within the sound booth, we see a world that parallels the more famous and familiar side of Hollywood. The voice artists have their own superstars, their own casting calls, their own awards ceremony—and, as depicted in the film, they even give out their own lifetime achievement award. It's a universe onto itself, and one that is largely hidden from the public.

    Being a master of one's voice involves taking care of one's voice the way a ballerina would take care of her feet. The film shows voice actors doing exercises that are almost comical, such as putting a cork in one's mouth and repeating all the vowels. Bell's character, Carol, is an ambitious, nervous, and hyperactive young woman whose antics are highly amusing—every time she lands a job and makes progress with her career, she does a little dance of joy that involves twirling her hoodie in circles while she gyrates hilariously, sticking her rear end in and out in a manner that may well be inimitable. Bell's character has a real gripe with young women whose voices are misused to be seductively childlike, an accent that Bell has a problem with in real life as well. She calls it the “sexy baby squeak.” It must be a southern California thing, because I have never met a teenager or a grown woman who talks like that, although I have occasionally heard this accent in Hollywood comedies (and there is a demonstration of the baby squeak in the film). Bell has said in interviews that she strongly objects to this accent, which she calls a dialect, because it makes intelligent women sound stupid.

    One has to admit that Bell's vocal tones are resonant and silvery, although you might ask why an intelligent performer such as she would make YouTube videos that show her prancing around in her underwear. Should she not be as concerned about looking stupid as she is about sounding stupid? It would seem that in a world where actresses have to show off their wares, even the brilliant ones are willing to do anything to attract the attention of [male] directors.
  4. Aug 25, 2013
    Not at all bad, but not great or memorable. Given her talents and experience, it seems that Bell might have done better with her first feature if she'd made a sketch-driven comedy, and saved a comedy with a serious side for a later outing. As it is, there aren't enough of the funny bits, while more or less everything about the serious side falls flat.

    The dramatic elements, the depth of the character and writing, the framing and composition, the social satire; they're all pretty slight. The tone shifts back and forth between a sort of pure-laughs comedy [Anchorman etc] and a serious comedy or satire [some Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach etc]. The clash inherent in this tone shift undercuts the serious side rather forcefully. If that weren't enough, the serious elements in themselves are pretty sophomoric.

    However, it is enjoyable and warm-hearted, and Bell shows some chance of a better outing in the future.
  5. Feb 25, 2014
    Interesting but talky. If you like a lot of dialogue this is your movie. It's a slice of life with an interesting point of view and the dialogue is written and delivered well. More of an "I've got some friends who are kind of interesting but it gets old after a while" kind of feel. Expand
  6. Aug 28, 2013
    Interesting that all the male (white) roles in the film are caricatures, and all (save one) of the female roles are heroic/tragic despite severe character flaws. I wonder how the screenwriter would have portrayed a male that was an immoral thirty-something couch-surfer, or a philandering hotel employee who sleeps with the paying guests? Feminist indeed! This won the screenwriting award at Sundance? hmmmmm Collapse
  7. Feb 14, 2014
    This film is completely destroyed by its painfully "quirky" sense of humor that deflates any points it tries to make about sexism and gender equality, and the main character is pretty much a copy of Frances Ha with all the charm and depth removed. Expand

See all 15 User Reviews


Related Articles

  1. The Best and Worst Movies of 2013

    The Best and Worst Movies of 2013 Image
    Published: January 6, 2014
    There were more great movies released in 2013 than in any year in recent memory. Browse our official lists of the year's highest-scoring movies in a variety of categories, and check out 2013's worst films, too.