The best comedy you’ll see this summer

Lake Bell’s first feature-length film effort In a World… is this summer’s best comedy.

Lake Bell as Carol in In a World…

As someone who screens a ton of films each week, I sometimes find myself struggling to remember plots — scenes get muddled as they blend together and familiar ideas get tread again. But with Lake Bell’s directorial debut In a World… things were different. It’s a fresh and original comedy, full of authentic and charmingly awkward performances.

Thirty-something Carol (Lake Bell) is the daughter of voiceover king Sam Soto (Fred Melamed). She still lives at home and works as a vocal coach, helping celebrities like Eva Longoria pull off a Cockney accent, but she is ultimately an underachiever. She spends her days collecting vocal snippets, accents and inflections on her tape recorder, living off the scraps of the voiceover entertainment world. In an attempt to motivate Carol, Sam kicks her out of the house and encourages her to try for some bigger gigs in order to support herself and become more self-sufficient (and so he can live with his 30-year-old girlfriend).

Carol’s ridiculous, floundering attempts at adulthood are hilarious, even when they manage to cut a bit too close to the bone. When sound engineer Louis (comedian Demetri Martin) notices Carol’s potential and starts helping her to get a few more lucrative voiceover jobs, it gives her the confidence and support to establish her career. When an opportunity arises to do the trailer for a new blockbuster, where they will revive the legendary “In a world…” opening, it starts a war between Carol, her father and Sam’s voiceover successor for the part.

As we’re all familiar with movie trailer voiceovers, the deconstruction of that world and the hierarchy is immediately intriguing. Bell’s performance as Carol is human and relatable — there’s something so engaging about seeing someone who doesn’t have their shit together on the big screen (not to mention that she lacks the glossy hair and caked-on make-up, and is still a total fox). The casting of Demetri Martin was inspired, as love starts to bloom between him and Bell on screen, the lack of tact and the foot-in-mouth moments are much more true to life.

In a World… is an original, endearing comedy that manages to keep you laughing the whole way through — an ambitious and well-written first effort for Bell. ■

In a World… opens Friday, Aug. 16

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