So why don’t women get to voice movie trailers? Bar vocal artist Melissa Disney’s groundbreaking effort for
Gone In 60 Seconds
(2000), it’s long been a boys’ club.
Writer/director/leading lady Lake Bell’s overstuffed but a-dork-able indie comedy sinks its teeth into the problem, as the death of (real-life) King of Voiceovers Don LaFontaine unleashes a power struggle in trailer-land.
Bell’s luckless but talented voice coach finds herself blindsided by her patronising father (a deliciously pompous Fred Melamed), and tangled up with arrogant Gustav Warner (Ken Marino), both top dogs in the tiny world of trailer-voice stardom.
Voice gags abound, like Eva Longoria (playing herself) reciting execrable Cockney with a cork in her mouth. Or Bell’s exasperated assault on the Kardashian cult of the ubiquitous girly-baby voice. You know, the one that goes up at the end of every sentence? So everything is a question?
The film crams in a few too many storylines and characters, pinballing its heroine between romance with preening Gustav (practitioner of a cinema first: the French kiss for noses) and hapless hipster techie Louis (Demitri Martin). Why waste bone-dry Rob Corddry as a sad-sack brother-in-law in a limp sub-plot?
Despite winning a Sundance Fest screenwriting award, the fun, relaxed script gets a tad sentimental when Bell goes up against Melamed and Marino for the prestige voiceover on the action-fantasy ‘quadrilogy’ ‘Amazon Games’. But the hilarious trailer (spot the cameo-ing A-lister under the war paint) livens up the film’s unexceptional looks and - odd in a film about vocal artistry – an occasionally foggy soundtrack.
But it’s all worth it to watch gorgeously gawky, girl-of-1000-voices Bell put her own screwball spin on everything from sex to sisterly bickering. In a world where women rarely get to be multi-hyphenates, she’s pulled off a neat comic coup.
It was a time… for a female film-trailer voiceover. Witty, wry, and just a little bit scattershot, this good-natured satire takes on cinema’s last taboo with small-screen plotting, but big-screen gusto.