Movie Review: In a World

I have been wanting to see this movie for the longest time, but never knew when I would get a chance to see it. I am really glad I watched it though, because it taught me to not give up on my dreams. The film, which is based on the late Don LaFontaine’s famous voice over for trailers “In a world…”, is about a voice over coach named Carol (played by Lake Bell, who also wrote, directed and produced this film) who lives with her voice actor dad Sam, and she is struggling to find gigs. The worst part: her dad kicks her out so that his girlfriend can move in with him. He also tells her the same thing he has been telling her for years: that the industry won’t hire her because she’s a woman. So she goes to her sister Dani’s place to live and is still struggling to find work. She also has to compete with an egotistical jerk named Gustav Warner, who is competing for Carol’s work. While she is working in the studio, she is given a prompt to read for a new movie, and she soon finds out that she got a couple of gigs. What she doesn’t know is that her dad and Gustav are also competing for them. She goes to a party that Gustav is throwing and ends up sleeping with Gustav because he manipulates her into thinking he likes her for her when he is just using her to advance his own agenda. Carol ends up proving to these two dudes that women are just as valuable to the industry as any man (the fact that Lake Bell produced, wrote, directed, and starred in the film proves this even further).

This film reminded me a lot of this one episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, in which Midge meets her idol Sophie Lennon, who puts on a running caricature of an overweight poor woman from Queens named Sophie. Midge actually believes that Sophie from Queens is real and Sophie invites her over to her house, but when she gets there she finds that Sophie, in reality, lives a completely different life from her character. Sophie in real life sucks on lemons, is haughty, lives in a mansion, and looks down on Midge. When Midge asks her for advice and tells Sophie of her dreams of being a famous comedian, Sophie laughs at her and says in seriousness that comedy won’t take her seriously unless she is a man (she used a coarser phrase but it doesn’t need repeating). When Sam says this to Carol, I thought of this scene. Midge of course proves Sophie wrong (and even reveals to her audience at the Gaslight that Sophie isn’t who people think she is and is just an arrogant fraud who thinks her poo doesn’t stink).

This movie, In a World, was also inspiring to watch as a female in the music industry. Even though the film is about voice over acting, music still has a long way to go in how it treats women and a lot of women in the industry, like Bebe Rexha, are taking initiative to support other women in the field since many of them, like her, have had to break down some kind of barrier to their success. When women support other women, as I have found out in my own industry, great things happen and we defy the stereotypes that women are always backstabbing each other and can’t support one another.

I also thought about the story of the dragon king’s daughter while watching this film. In The Lotus Sutra, which expounds the philosophy of Buddhism (and which is the foundation of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism), there is a story about an eight-year-old girl who is the daughter of a dragon king and she goes before an assembly of people who doubt she can attain enlightenment. But without having to change her form, she basically tells the assembly, “Watch me attain Buddhahood” and does so before their very eyes. This story is for everyone, but especially for girls and women because it shows that you can be yourself and still kick butt at what you do. Like the dragon king’s daughter, everyone has that courage, compassion and wisdom inside of them but it’s just a matter of bringing it out. Even though her dad thought she wouldn’t make it in the industry, Carol proved that she has a purpose for being in the field that she is in, and later we see that it’s to encourage other young women to pursue voice acting because they finally see a woman doing it and feel encouraged to go for the field. And I like Carol because she’s awkward and introverted like me, which doesn’t seem to most people like an attractive personality in a competitive extroverted business where you’re constantly around people who don’t seem genuine (probably not true about Hollywood since I’ve never worked in it, so I’m probably making a generalization). But she uses her strength to her advantage and realizes that she doesn’t have to become her egotistical dad or Gustav. While leading up to the big day of the voice over gig they’re all competing for, Gustav trains rigorously with his housekeeper, Sam trains with his girlfriend, and Carol is sitting at home with her friend in the studio Louis (who, unlike Gustav, is a sweet guy who respects Carol and also likes her for her), and chowing down on a hamburger. She is the only one who is relaxing before the gig. Even though she wasn’t going through intensive training before the gig, she still did a great job at it.

Overall, this film was great and I honestly wouldn’t mind watching it again. Also, like Booksmart, the film had a cool soundtrack with a lot of great hits from Ice Cube and Tears for Fears.

In a World. 2013. Rated R for language including some sexual references.

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