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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Lake Bell
Cast:
Lake Bell, Jeff Garlin, Rob Corddry, Alexandra Holden, Eva Longoria, Ken Marino, Demetri Martin, Fred Melamed, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman
Writing Credits:
Lake Bell

Tagline:
Speak up and let your voice be heard.

Synopsis:
An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$70.541 thousand on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross
$2.962 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 1/21/2014

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Lake Bell
• 9 Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Promo Trailers
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


In A World [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 20, 2014)

Recently I checked out Don Jon, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s debut as writer/director. Not to be outdone, fellow actor Lake Bell makes the leap to writer/director with In a World…, a character comedy connected to the realm of voice-over performers.

Carol (Bell) struggles to make a career as a vocal coach, and she butts heads with her father Sam (Fred Melamed), one of the most successful voice-over actors. After the death of the legendary Don LaFontaine, someone needs to pick up the slack, and Sam plans to promote his protégé Gustav (Ken Marino).

Of course, this upsets Carol, as she hopes to get into the field instead. We watch Carol’s family issues as well as her attempts to make a name for herself and a encounters various romantic complications.

Going into Don Jon, I worried that it’d be little more than an indulgent attempt at cinematic self-glorification, and the same concerns greeted World. It’s daunting enough when an actor leaps to director, but when that performer decides to film his/her own screenplay, the potential for self-absorbed nonsense zooms.

Gordon-Levitt impressed me with his debut, but I feel less enamored with Bell’s work in World. Not that I want to indicate strong displeasure with the film, as it musters some entertainment; it just can't keep us with it the whole way, as it sputters well before it ends.

World often feels more like a concept than a story even though it attempts to pour on a bunch of narrative elements. We get Carol’s issues with her dad, Carol’s problems with her dad’s much younger girlfriend, Carol’s relationship with Louis (Demetri Martin), her competition with Gustav, additional love interests there, and complications in her sister Dani’s (Michaela Watkins) marriage to Moe (Rob Corddry).

And that doesn’t even sum up everything! Suffice it to say that Bell spreads the story too thin, especially given the movie’s fairly brief 93-minute running time. If World focused more tightly on just a few of these components, it might be able to flesh them out for a more consistent tale, but it flits all over the place that it collapses under the weight of its ADHD tendencies.

Perhaps Bell worried that if she concentrated on Carol, World would look like a vanity effort so she decided to share the wealth. Or maybe she just has a lot of friends who she wanted to see get good screen time and this becomes the result.

Whatever the root, World comes burdened with too many extraneous scenes and elements. Is there any reason whatsoever that we need the storyline about the marital issues between Dani and Moe? Nope, and that thread works particularly poorly due to the simplistic manner in which the flick depicts it. The film seems to want to focus on the strained relationship between Carol and Sam, so the shift to the supporting roles makes little sense.

I can understand Carol’s romantic adventures a bit better, but even those feel artificial and forced. In a weird way, the movie seems to be a reverse Jazz Singer; instead of a father upset his child doesn’t follow in his footsteps, Sam becomes bothered Carol tries to take his career path.

What do Carol’s romances have to do with this? Not much. Some twists threaten to have an impact, but these quickly disappear.

The more I think about it, the more I really do start to think Bell wrote the script as an excuse to feature a lot of her friends. The movie’s so bizarrely egalitarian that I find it tough to explain the lack of character focus any other way. World never really commits to a truly broad ensemble orientation, but it skitters about too much to be as focused on its lead as it should be.

Still, Bell does have a talented collection of friends, and they add charm to the proceedings. At times the movie feels like a bunch of audition scenes, as if those involved hoped to add their segments to reels they could send to casting directors, but they still give the film some zest and fun.

It’s not quite enough to redeem World, however. The movie starts out reasonably well and entertains for a while, but it becomes more and more sidetracked as it goes. With a tighter focus, this could’ve been a pretty good movie; as constituted, it’s a sporadically enjoyable mess.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

In a World appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a generally positive presentation.

Sharpness usually looked good, as the majority of the flick demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Some shots could be a bit soft, but those didn’t present notable distractions and they reflected the film’s visual choices. I witnessed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. I also didn’t see any signs of source defects.

Expect a somewhat restricted palette here. The movie went with a mild yellow tone much of the time; it wasn’t truly unnatural, but the tones veered toward that yellow feel. Within those parameters, the colors were fine; they never excelled, but they worked for the movie. Blacks were pretty deep and firm, while shadows looked clear and smooth. We got a mostly nice image here.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it was decidedly low-key. Music and dialogue dominated the film, and we got a bit of directional speech. The score showed nice stereo spread, but effects had little to do. The track featured minor environmental information and that was about it; street and party scenes added a bit of breadth but this was almost always a subdued mix.

Not that this restricted scope was a bad thing, as the movie didn’t need auditory fireworks, and at least quality was good. Speech appeared concise and crisp, without edginess or other problems.

Music came across as full, while effects demonstrated nice accuracy. They were so subdued that they never threatened to tax my system, but they seemed fine. The flick’s restricted soundscape meant it featured an average mix, but it suited the material.

When we move to extras, the prime attraction comes from an audio commentary with writer/director/actor Lake Bell. She delivers a running, screen-specific view of story/character/script areas, sets and locations, cast and performances, music, cinematography, and a few other subjects.

Overall, Bell delivers a good chat. She covers the expected topics and does so in a reasonably likable, concise manner. The commentary never threatens to become fascinating, but it tells us a lot about the movie.

Nine Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 14 minutes, 23 seconds. Most of these are fairly inconsequential character bits, but a few decent clips emerge. I like the alternate opening, and Carol’s encounter with a washed-up female voice actor adds an interesting twist. We also see segments from the movie’s fictitious reality show as well as the flick Eva Longoria dubs; neither does much to entertain.

A Gag Reel lasts three minutes, 57 seconds. It presents a collection of the usual goofs and giggles. Don’t expect much of interest, though we do get a few alternate lines along the way.

The disc opens with ads for Austenland, Cold Comes the Night, Inside Llewyn Davis, I’m So Excited and The Monuments Men. Previews includes the same clips, and we also get six In a World… promos. These don’t just regurgitate footage from the film, and that makes them more fun than most trailers.

Despite a promising premise, In a World… proves too busy to succeed. It throws so many characters and plot elements at us that it can’t explore any of them in a satisfying way, which leaves it as spotty entertainment. The Blu-ray delivers reasonably good picture and audio as well as some decent bonus materials. World occasionally satisfies but it lacks consistency.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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