I’m not sure the first time I saw the wonderful, endearingly offbeat, perennially sexy Lake Bell onscreen, but I recall the moment I took notice: an episode of Rob Corddry’s brilliant Children’s Hospital, the one in which Bell’s Dr. Cat Black fell for a six-year-old with aging disease, played by Nick Kroll. It was hilarious, and she played it perfectly.
I did not see too much of her post-Hospital work, although I did find her to be the best and most convincing actor in Katie Aselton’s off-putting Black Rock.
About a year ago, I was intrigued to see she wrote, directed, and starred in a film premiering at Sundance, In a World, and the rave reviews made me even more interested. I never had a chance to catch up with the film in theaters, but finally watched it on DVD last week. Wow. This story of a voice-over artist one of the best films of the year.
Here are some reasons why:
- The script: Bell received Best Screenplay honors at Sundance 2013, and indeed, her script is bursting with original, well-rounded characters; hilarious dialogue; and a real sense of progression.
- The cast: Bell is wonderful as Carol Solomon, but the entire cast is strong. No one stands out more than Fred Melamed, whose performance in A Serious Man is one of my favorites of the last decade, as Carol’s father. But the entire cast — Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Alexandra Holden, the always welcome Nick Offerman — is impressive.
- The pace: This is a film that moves quickly, but manages to stay not just light and funny, but downright warm, as well. That’s not easy to pull off, and it makes me think Bell will be a director to watch.
On Twitter, I said it was “my late pick as 2013’s most purely enjoyable directorial debut,” and that is certainly true. (Bell herself re-Tweeted that comment, which makes me even more thrilled about her.) I’ll be posting a slightly revised top 10 list soon, and In a World will make the cut.