By G. Michael Dobbs
A quirky comedy that is well worth your time and a charming animated film are featured in this week’s movie review column.
In a World
For those of us who love movies, we should recognize three words – “in a world” – made famous in movie trailers by the late voice over artist Don LaFontaine. Writer, director and actor Lake Bell took that phrase to spin off an original comedy about the world of voice over actors who compete with one another for gigs on commercials and movie trailers.
Bell plays Carol, a woman in her 30s who is professionally and personally adrift. The daughter of a legendary voice over artist Sam Sotto (played by an actual voice over performer and actor Fred Melamed), Carol makes a tenable living coaching people to improve their voices.
Kicked out of her dad’s house to make room for his girlfriend, Carol winds up on her sister’s couch.
Her break comes when it’s learned a movie studio has a four-picture epic planned and is seeking to use LaFontaine’s signature tagline. The producer at the recording studio at which she works (played by normally comatose comedian Demetri Martin) believes in her and helps push an audition tape to the movie’s producers.
When word reaches the other voice over actors that a woman may get what is considered to be a male assignment, egos erupt – not the least is her father’s who doesn’t know he is competing against his daughter.
What I really liked about this film is not its romantic comedy elements nor its family drama storyline, but the fact that Bell, who has done a fair amount of voice acting in animated productions, has set the film in a corner of the entertainment industry that few people have considered.
That quirkiness brings a lot to this film and while it’s not a huge belly-laugh type of comedy, it is sweet natured and enjoyable.
Lost and Found
This adaptation of the children’s book of the same name is finally coming to this country through home video and it is a treat that has won more than 40 international awards since its debut in 2008.
About a half-hour in length, the story centers around the nature of friendship as illustrated in the tale of a “small boy” – no name is ever used – who discovers a penguin on his front doorstep. Concerned the penguin has lost his way, the boy decides to make sure he is returned to Antarctica and begins an epic voyage in a rowboat he has built.
Narrated by British actor Jim Broadbent, this in one production in which every possible piece fits together. The animation matches the art style of author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers perfectly and, despite a minimum of facial expression, there is a maximum understanding of the emotions involved.
I was very impressed and moved by this short, which is designed for all ages.
Primeval: New World
You may remember a BBC series – seen here on BBC America – called “Primeval,” which collapsed under its own narrative weight. Basically, the show was about a time porthole that allowed dinosaurs to come into this time.
That show was cancelled a new spin-off, shot in Canada, was started, “Primeval: New World.”
The first and only season is now available in DVD and I will say it seemed to have avoided some of the silliness of the original series.
If you liked the first series or if you’re a science fiction fan, you might want to give this one a try. The animation of the dinos is pretty good, especially for a TV series and the writers actually deal with the issue of time travel and its effects, something the first series avoided.