If I had seen Seeking a Friend for the End of the World before I heard Bo and Lauren talk about being so happy to be together for the end of the world, I would have made a comment about this film in that Lost Girl post. I don’t think it’s really the end of the world on Lost Girl, but in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a 70-mile in diameter asteroid is hurtling toward earth, and it really is the end of the world.
In a World is terrific.
In a World is the from the mind of Lake Bell. She wrote it, directed it, and stars in it. Her character – Carol – wants to do voice overs. Carol is a quirky and very likable woman. Carol’s father Sam, played by real voice over artist Fred Melamed, discounts her dreams because she’s a woman and women don’t become voice over stars. In addition, her father is currently the biggest name in voice over acting, and he doesn’t like the idea of an upstart daughter being his competition.
The title comes from the voice of Don LaFontaine, the legendary voice over star who made the phrase “in a world” the famous opening of many a movie trailer. The death of this real Hollywood personality left a hole in the voice over world that several in Lake Bell’s fictional world attempt to fill.
Carol, her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) her father and her father’s younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) make up a family with its unique set of issues and jealousies and support systems. The sisters are beautifully close. I enjoyed the twists in how the family dynamics played out, and especially Jamie’s surprise influence on how Sam behaved as a father.
Dani has her own storyline separate from Carol around her relationship with her husband Moe, played by Rob Corddry. Another storyline is Carol’s hunt for work and her voice recording work in a studio run by a guy named Louis, played by relative newcomer Demetri Martin. (Louis is a romantic interest, too.) Other characters in the recording studio are played by Stephanie Allynne, who has a real knack for physical comedy, and Tig Nagaro, who gets a couple of good laughs. Ken Marino is Gustav, another of the voice over artists in the race to become the new voice to utter “in a world” in future movie trailers. Gustav uses his oily charm to seduce Carol before he realizes that she is his mentor Sam’s daughter and another aspiring voice over talent.
Eva Longoria is hilarious as Eva Longoria. Geena Davis is perfect as a crusader for women’s power in Hollywood. Cameron Diaz did an uncredited bit as an Amazon warrior.
The movie is funny with lots of opportunities to laugh, a few opportunities to wince at a character’s pain, and an ending that deserves applause. I don’t want to give you a lot of details because the ending is unusual. As I was leaving I heard several different people make positive comments, so I wasn’t the only moviegoer who was happy with the movie.
You can watch the trailer in the earlier post Where in the World is In a World?
All images ©Roadside Attractions
The Way, Way Back opens on the miserable face of Liam James as 14-year-old Duncan, sitting in the way, way back seat of a vintage woodie Buick station wagon. Driving this aging monster is Trent (Steve Corell), his mom’s boyfriend. His mom is Pam, (Toni Collette) and his possible future step-sister filling the middle seat with all her teen-age horribleness is Steph (Zoe Levin). They are on their way to Trent’s beach house to spend the summer.
Rounding out the star-studded cast we have Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb (remember how wonderful she was in Bridge to Terabithia? She’s even better now.), Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and Amanda Peet. It speaks to the quality of the writing and the story that so many accomplished actors were willing to take part in this production.
The trailer shows them in action.
The story revolves around Duncan. This teen has issues. His parents are recently divorced. His mom’s new boyfriend is an asshole. His dad has a new younger girlfriend and “now isn’t a good time to visit.” He doesn’t know how to talk to people. His mom is bending herself into someone else to fit into the new boyfriend’s life. He has to go everyone on a pink girl’s bike which is as dated as Trent’s Buick.
When they arrive in the beach town, Duncan is befriended by Owen, the manager of a water park (Sam Rockwell), who teaches him how to laugh, how to assert himself, and how to take chances. As improbable a plot point as it is to imagine a grown man befriending young Duncan for purely selfless reasons, there’s a scene to somewhat explain how they connect. When the Buick pulls into town, with Duncan staring morosely out the back window, they stop in traffic. The car behind them is driven by Owen, who makes eye contact with Duncan and they share a moment while waiting for the traffic to move.
Duncan manages to find his way while all around him the significant adults in his life are drinking themselves silly, smoking pot, and damaging their own children in countless ways. Young River Alexander as Peter pronounces his mom the worst parent, but there are several candidates for that prize in this tale.
With such a stellar cast, even the smallest of characters in this busy relationship drama turn in full-blown performances. There’s a romance of sorts between Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph’s characters. There’s cheating going on – I won’t spoil it by telling you who – and there’s a first kiss for Duncan before it’s over.
Duncan’s awakening spurs his mom to gather up her strength, too. The movie closes on a heartwarming note.
Heartwarming is probably the best description of The Way, Way Back. There are real people with real life problems and a hopeful ending. A perfectly heartwarming movie.
Have you see it? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?