In a World... (2013)
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. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation.
An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé.
- Don LaFontaine "The Voice" of trailers dies age 68. In the voice over world, five voices make all the money, recording 60 trailers a week, sometimes 35 a day. Don is labelled as the voice of God in archival interview footage. TV interviews with Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed) and Gustav Warren (Ken Marino) about their memories of the late Don reveal the enormous ego and self promotion of Sam Sotto who sees himself as equal to Don and mentor to new voice Gustav, young heir to a fortune. The late Don intoned "In a world . . ." the first iconic trailer. Film producer Katherine Huling (Geena Davis) is making a quadrilogy female mutant Amazons tween chick flick. Competition for the trailer voice over is fierce.
Sam knows his voice is not as good as Don's. Sam sees himself generously stepping aside to allow Gustav to make the hotly contested quadrilogy trailer. Sam just published his self congratulatory autobiography and is receiving a Golden Trailer Lifetime Achievement Award, Oscar-equivalent in the voice over annual ceremony.
Louis (Demetri Martin) is a shy solid young man who runs Sound Mix-a-Lot (Stuart Saves His Family) a sound mixing studio with Heners (Nick Offerman) and Cher (Tig Notaro) a lesbian who is hitting on their receptionist Nancy (Stephanie Allynne), an obsessive reader currently consuming Sam Sotto's autobiography whom she thinks is hot. We hear Louis leaving a voice message that Eva Longoria needs to re-loop a movie, and asks Carol Solomon to do the accent coaching.
Sam's daughter Carol Solomon (Lake Bell, the producer, writer, and star of this movie) does dialect coaching and agrees to help Eva Longoria (playing herself) to loop her accent as a British mob boss wife. Carol lives with dad Sam because dialect coaching does not pay well enough for her to afford an apartment. Carol insists she can do any voice work Gustav can do. Sam reminds his daughter that voice over trailers are a man's world, no one wants to hear a female voice. Carol experiences voice cracking which prevents her from getting better paying trailer voice over work. She lives with constantly running humidifiers, sleeps late, surreptitiously tapes accents to add to her voice archive. Carol notices voices on the street and offers her card to women with sexy baby voices which prevent them from achieving professional credibility, recognition and equal pay for equal work.
Carol is coaching Eva Longoria for looping when Heners bursts into the studio because he needs a romantic comedy with children temp tape 10 minutes ago in an adjacent studio. Carol volunteers leaving Eva Longoria to chew on a cork to round out her vowels.
Louis is attracted to Carol and trips over himself trying to get her work, water and Fanta. Receptionist Nancy jealously bids for Louis's attention.
Sam tells Carol she is 31-years old and needs to move out. He admits as a father he is enabling her to remain dependent, helpless and irresponsible using her cracking voice as an excuse to not assume the adult responsibility to be self supporting. Sam's much-younger girl friend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) is moving in so Carol needs to leave.
Carol imposes on her older sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and mensch brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry) for a place to sleep. Dani has lost her wedding ring and leaves for work as concierge in a hotel residence. One of the residents Irish Terry Pouncer (Jason O'Mara) is handsome and flirting with Dani since he notices she isn't wearing a wedding ring. He asks Dani as concierge to send a bottle to his friend Gustav who is sick.
Carol wants Pouncer's accent for her archive and asks Dani to tape Pouncer answering a series of questions. Carol cannot do the taping herself since the last time she was in the hotel she followed a Bulgarian diplomat with her tape recorder. The diplomat thought Carol was a spy, lodged a complaint and the hotel took out a restraining order on her. Carol uses Sister Code guilt against Dani as leverage to get her to agree to do the taping.
Louis calls Carol to inform her the producers like her modern quirky voice on the temp trailer and have chosen her to make the final trailer instead of Gustav Warner who was hoarse and unable to record the temp tape. Gustav yells at his agent Siegel on the phone about losing this big trailer job to a woman in front of Sam and Gustav's Russian maid. Sam complains women are taking over in front of Russian maid Alla as if she were invisible.
Moe is making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hears a knock on the door. Neighbor Pippa is asking a favor, her pipes are broken, she wants to shower in Moe's apartment. Moe hesitates but agrees. He calls Dani at work and asks if she will be home for dinner because he is cooking a sandwich bar. Dani has to work late to help with a corporate function. Moe is relieved, welcomes Pippa in, tells her if she has problems with the shower faucets just holler. Just then Carol walks in. Moe blurts "Pippa is naked in the shower."
Carol texts Dani that she doesn't need Pouncer's accent because she was hired for a second children's trailer and may be the voice of Sunny Delight. Moe congratulates Carol and asks if she has told her dad. "No but I will" as she eats Moe's PBJ.
Text on Dani's phone from Carol: Don't worry about recording Irish guy. Got huge job! Will tell you tonight. 8:52PM Dani sees romantic couples pass her concierge desk going into the hotel. She grabs the typed page of questions and recorder Carol left earlier and rings Terry Pouncer. Terry assures Dani "You are always taking care of me so I'm thrilled to return the favor." Dani insists "it's my job to get you what you want." Pouncer "You don't get me what I want, you get me what I ask for. What I want would make you blush."
Hener is going to Gustav's party so he can enjoy post party sex with wife Mimi. Louis reminds Hener he hates Gustav. Hener says "rape him for his open bar." Louis insists voice over parties are tiring, listening to the voice of Cialis hitting on the voice of Virgin America in the bathroom. Cher suggests Louis ask Carol to Gustav's party. Louis calls Carol as she is leaving an audition, to invite her to Gustav's party. Carol is attending with her dad and sister and says it would be fun to see him there, but is interrupted by a woman with a squeaky toy child's voice asking directions to a smoothie place. Carol hangs up and mimics the woman's squeaky voice claiming that she doesn't know.
Louis tells Cher he told Carol he isn't going to Gustav's party. Cher and Carlos (Jaime Aymerich) convince Louis he should go with a date to make Carol jealous. Nancy says she will dress up and look totally hot if Louis will take her to Gustav's party.
Sam invited his daughters Dani and Carol to join him and Jamie at a V.O. voice over party at Gustav's mansion. Sam's inviting his daughters was Jamie's idea. Sam can't say no to Jamie. Because Dani is working late she can't make it. Sam is revelling in his fame and sees himself as the new godfather of voice over, and views himself as beneficent mentor to Gustav all the while discouraging and demeaning the voice work of women in general and daughter Carol in particular. Sam's vanity plate reads ANUNC8 (enunciate, speak clearly).
Carol doesn't have any dressy outfits. Carol and Moe ask fashion maven neighbor Pippa (Talulah Riley) to lend Carol dress clothes for this fashion emergency. Carol looks stunning in red dress and 4" heels. Dani is working late as usual. Carol "use protection ok?" Moe responds "I will, my diaphragm is in."
Carol has to squeeze horizontally into the back of Sam's two seater. Sam wonders where Dani is. Carol says "work." Sam is disgusted "of course" and constantly cautions Carol to not harm his leather seats.
As Carol is walking into Gustav's mansion she runs into Louis and Nancy. The voice over men are all preening in front of one another and tearing each other down with backhanded compliments. Jamie mentions the awards ceremony will help to bring the family back together again. Gustav notices Carol across the room examining his collected folk art and global maps.
Moe keeps phoning and leaving messages for Dani who hasn't returned his calls. He is hanging around home alone, cleans out Dani's gym bag, finds the question sheet and tape, turns on the tape out of boredom. Moe hears Pouncer seducing Dani.
Gustav approaches Carol and introduces himself "I've been clocking you out all night, you are really pretty." Mimi (Olya Milova) Hener's wife and Alla (Yelena Protsenko) Gustav's maid both Russian are friends in the tight small Russian community. Drunk Nancy is trying to seduce Sam Sotto, but Jamie pushes her away. Nancy is so drunk that Louis has to remove her from the party.
Carol is wandering Gustav's mansion and discovers a hidey hole behind a painted faux library door. Carol enters and discovers a room filled with tribal folk art. Gustav "this is my private space. My parents died when I was young, I traveled the world, culture is my education." The room is filled with global exotica. Louis asks to kiss Carol and gloms onto her nose.
Dani comes home after work, the tape of Pouncer seducing Dani is running. Moe puts her wedding ring beside the tape recorder "found it beside the sink." Dani collapses sobbing. Moe bends down kisses Dani on the hair while she says "wait" and he walks out.
Next morning Carol wakes up in a red room entangled in red bedding with Gustav. Carol dresses, tiptoes down the stairs and is seen by Alla putting her shoes back on and leaving by the front door.
Nancy wakes up asking Louis "did we sleep together?" "No" "Did I sleep with anyone?" "No" Nancy "Sorry about your sheets."
Carol swings into Dani's apartment "Who's a slutty whore?" laughing until she finds Dani sobbing. "Danielle are you ok?" and bends to comfort her sister.
Alla is shampooing Gustav's hair while he soaks in the bathtub and talks on his cell with Siegel his agent "found name of the broad who snagged that gig from you. She's a nobody two-bit vocal coach but now she booked two more movie trailer gigs, children's movies. Her name is Carol Solomon."
Dani "I didn't even sleep with the stupid Irish schmuck. We just kissed then I ran out of the room after 25 minutes." Carol "Sister Code, did you sleep with him?" Dani "Sister Code I didn't."
Heners "why were you late to work?" Louis "because I slept in, I couldn't wake Nancy up to get her out of my apartment" Cher "Nancy is a volcano of sensuality, you could have experienced her eruption." Louis "Volcanoes kill people Cher." Cher "you are just miffed about Carol" Louis "what?" Heners "Mimi knows Gustav's maid Alla because the Russian community is very connected. Alla said Carol spent the night at Gustav's." Louis yells at a man eating snacks (Janicza Bravo) in the studio.
Sam and Gustav are chatting in the sauna. Gustav brags about taking down a girl at the party "she's super hot." Sam "you got lucky kid you sound like me" Gustav "she is the chick who snagged the gig from me" Sam "she bitch slapped you by stealing that gig from you. You should have fun, play this vixen out, it's her fault for messing with the scorpion. Give her the stinger from me" not realizing it is his daughter Carol he is encouraging Gustav to betray.
Gustav calls Carol "you snaking another one of my jobs? Break a lung. Bye Carol Solomon" hangs up. To himself Gustav brays "I'm the boss."
Carol in British accent does hairbrush voiceover. "Where's Louis?" Cher "went home early" Nancy "he doesn't want to see you." Cher "sorry to drop the broccoli, but I heard through the grapevine they want you to V.O. promo for some trilogy." Nancy "the Amazon Games quadrilogy hyperfantasy book series about fierce mutated female Amazonian warriors." Cher "they are reinstating the hokey 'In a world . . .' gimmick" Nancy "it marks the rebirth of epic cinema." Carol "thank you for dropping the broccoli" dances out ecstatic.
Carol passes a woman with a squeaky voice on the street "here is my card, I'm not a vocal coach any more, but I will make an exception for you because you sound like a squeaky toy. You are better than that." Carol whoops into the apartment is startled by Moe standing there "just came back to get my cell. I'm staying at my friend PJs editing suite because I have a lot of deadlines."
Carol joins Dani at her concierge desk. "Good news dinner at dad's, groupie is making casserole. Spoken to Moe?" Dani "I feel so lost without him." Carol surreptitiously turns on her tape while Dani "nobody takes care of me the way Moe does. I feel really safe with him. The only thing I gave him in return is total dishonesty. Doesn't matter that I didn't sleep with that asshole. I hate myself for squandering the most beautiful thing I ever had in my whole stupid life. I'm so scared Carol that I'm going to lose him. And I'm so sad because I'm not good enough for him and I don't deserve him. And I don't deserve his sandwich bar." Carol "who is that hot friend of Moe's PJ?" "Koopchick? he's married, fat and hairy" Carol "I like that, like dad." Carol's way of finding out where Moe is staying.
Dinner at Sam's. Sam wrote an article and shares it with Carol "it's all about goals." Jamie enthuses about Sam's writing ability. Gustav Warner texts Carol "after dinner I want to steal you." 6:25PM Sam asks about Moe, tells Dani she didn't do anything wrong, Moe will get over this. "Marriage is about forgiveness, your mom understood that." Dani shouts "mom OD'd on the meds she had to take to deal with the anxiety you caused her." Sam "your mom had a deep affection for Sudafed which interfered with her love affair with Valium." Carol "it was Xanax dad." Sam "it was 16 years ago can you let it pass? the moment I find one iota of happiness the two of you start blaming your mother's death on me." Carol shares the news that she has two voice over trailer jobs which started when she swiped a job from Gustav Warner. "And now I'm going to be the voice of this new quadriliogy. I will be the first woman to utter the words 'In a world . . .'" Sam begins choking "you're the thief? why don't you share this stuff?" Carol "well you never ask." The daughters leave. Dani "dad can't let anybody in this whole family shine" because his mom Nana treated him badly as a child. "You cannot expect that man to ever be supportive of you."
Sam phones his agent to let him know he is reconsidering being the voice of "In a world . . ." trailer for the quadrilogy. Agent "Too late. I suppose you can put yourself on tape and give it a shot" Sam "I will conquer."
Siegel calls Gustav "Sotto is back in" Gustav "Amazon Games?"
At Koopchick's Moe receives a tape labeled "better than a bubble" he had said he wanted a bubble to go into where there is no past, no judgment, where he could understand why. It is the surreptitiously taped conversation where Dani admitted how sorry she is for what she did to her relationship with Moe and how terrified she was of losing him - the best thing to ever come into her life.
Louis wakes Carol with a phone call and asks where she is. Carol "I'm at my sister's place in Koreatown." Louis "let's get a snack" he brings hot water with lemon for her to gargle. As they walk Louis says he doesn't meddle but he likes Carol and he wants to pitch her an idea. He is excited about the quadrilogy job, he grew up with 3 sisters and is into women's rights. "The director wanted Gustav, but when the producer heard your voice, the job was yours. But now your dad's back in" Carol is surprised. "As of last night your dad's reps are pushing for him to be considered for it. Each person is responsible for recording and mixing their own audition which is due tomorrow and I'd love to help you with that." Carol "I gotta talk to Dani."
Louis starts jumping up and down and shouting. "My mom had ADHD and its a way to jolt someone into focusing. I like you. I know you are with Gustav Warner right now." Carol "how do you know that?" Louis "Gustav's housekeeper Alla, the Russian community is really tight, she told Hener's wife Mimi that Gustav slept with you to push you off your game, he doesn't consider you a real threat for the job." Louis convinces Carol to really work hard on the audition. Carol kisses Louis "I like you too" and runs away.
"Right Down the Line" is playing as Dani returns home from work, she opens the door "you believed in me through my darkest night, put something better inside of me." Candles are burning on the table, surrounding plates of cold cuts cheeses and sandwich bar makings with Moe presiding. "You brought me into the light, threw away all those crazy dreams" Dani jumps on Moe.
Carol thanks Louis for letting her spend the night since Dani and Moe need some alone time. Louis and Carol are awkward, but "tomorrow is game day" and Louis wants her to sleep well. He provides some homeopathic sleeping pills. Louis "I'm intuitive. Need anything coach on the couch. Rest that voice, big day tomorrow."
Montage of vocal exercises by Sam, Carol, Gustav, gargle, Jamie puts her lucky scarf from her nose surgery on Sam's neck. Louis to Carol "I thought you didn't eat meat." Carol "game day, need the taste of blood" text on Carol's phone from Dani "thanks for being a sneaky shit. Love you" Moe "wish you luck" Carol begins taping "a time where mankind has been replaced by womankind" then a montage of Gustav Sam and Carol taping the trailer "one woman dared to rise up and exceed the boundaries of the impossible. . . of one brave warrior who must fight for her land. From BAFTA winning director Terrence Pouncer. . . It's a broad new world." Don LaFontaine's voice over is used for Gustav in the montage with the classic rumble of his distinguished voice in chiaroscuro with Sam and Carol.
Moe and Jamie in bed laughing. Jamie "why do you have to deprive yourself before you perform?" Sam "they have to hear the sex in your voice."
Louis and Carol celebrate completing the audition tape by singing karaoke, Wii dancing, riding stationary motorcycles, playing pinball games. Louis Parker and Carol Solomon kiss goodnight.
Moe is in a suit for the Golden Trailer Ceremony where Sam Sotto will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dani and Carol refuse to go. Moe "you are his only family. You are going if I have to drag you."
Jeff Garlin is host of the Golden Trailer Awards. Executive Producer of Amazon Games Katherine Huling presents the first trailer of the quadrilogy at the Golden Trailer Ceremony. Everyone waits to hear which voice is used. Huling "Don coined those three little words that make this a truly epic promo." As Carol's voice is heard, Sam begins choking and runs out of the room followed by Jamie, then Carol. Sam escapes through numerous doors and finally screams out loud. Jamie "Sam don't scream - your larynx. You buck up and be proud of your daughter dammit. And when you are done crying and feeling sorry for yourself you are going to go apologize to both your daughters for being such a jerk. And you are going to be a good daddy from now on or you can say goodbye to me and my perfect nose. You are a better man than you think Sammy. Winning isn't everything. Family is. And being nice is a lot more fun. You'll see."
Carol is rinsing her face in the ladies room. Carol unbends and finds herself next to Katherine Huling Executive Producer of Amazon Games quadrilogy. "I really appreciate you taking a chance on me." Huling "I'm using you for a bigger purpose. This pseudo-feminist fantasy tween chick-lit bullshit is a devolution of the female mission. It's cancerous to the intelligence of young women. You got this job because whether the general public chooses to acknowledge it or not, voice over matters. Everyone in the world watches movie trailers. Everyone in the world sees commercials on television, hears them on the radio. . . And that is power! This quadrilogy is going to make billions of dollars and your voice is going to be the one to inspire every girl who hears it. And that's why I chose you. Not because you were the best for the job. Because frankly you weren't. I bet your dad is proud."
Gustav Warner makes the presentation of the Golden Trailer Lifetime Achievement Award to Sam Sotto. Sam's voice is cracking "a great voice is a blessing and a choice... my father would say 'you are good kid but as long as I'm around you will never be as good as me.' I want to dedicate this award to my daughters. You make me very proud. Thank you."
In the final scene, a group of women are cheering after viewing the quadrilogy trailer in Louis's sound mixing studio. Carol stands before a sign: 'Voice Over the vocal make over. Find your voice and get ready to be heard.' Carol is now back at her old job as a voice coach to a group of squeaky voiced women.
One of the women, named Stacy (Corsica Wilson), (the same woman who asked Carol for directions to a smoothie place earlier) explains to the group: "I'm a corporate attorney, and I've been interviewing for a job for 10 months. But no job because I sound like a sexy baby."
Carol adds: "Women should sound like women.... [squeaky voice] not baby dolls who end everything with a question? [normal voice] In the next six weeks we are going to learn to make a statement. Now, who is ready to be heard?"
Carol then leaves the booth to meet with Louis and Dani to discuss business while Stacy and the rest of the squeaky-voiced women are practicing their pronunciation of words.