Escape from Tomorrow
Much has been made of writer/director Randy Moore's shot on the sly, tongue-in-cheek creepshow "Escape from Tomorrow." For the uninitiated, Moore, his cast and crew shot much of their film on location at the Disney parks without Disney's knowledge or approval. Deciding to not draw any attention to the film, Disney didn't pursue legal action, and rumor has it the Fair Use agreement would allow this film to be shown regardless.
That said, the film - a hybrid David Lynch meets Sam Raimi blend of weirdness - tries to tell a story about plastic consumerism and its stranglehold on the young. But in that, Moore falters. His story begins with dad Jim (Roy Abramsohn) getting laid off from his job. He is on his last day of his Disney vacation with this wife Emily (Elena Schuber), daughter Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez), and son Elliot (Jack Dalton). Jim and Emily are already annoyed with each other, and the stress of losing his job is making Jim start to hallucinate. The film chronicles their last day at the park, focusing on Jim who becomes obsessed with two French teenage girls whom he follows like a creeper - son and/or daughter in tow. As the day progresses there is some nonsense about a cat flu that "everyone" is worried about (we see no one worried) and Jim eventually gets sucked into a crazy lunacy involving a woman dressed as a wicked queen and a wacky scientist that lives inside Epcot's Spaceship Earth.
Throughout this it's easy to marvel at how the cast and crew shot these scenes while clueless Disney Park guests and "Cast Members" are going about their day around them. The fact that this is a trippy horror movie that takes place in the park should make it giggle-inducing. The problem is that the story is incoherent and the characters so unlikeable you don't care about what's happening on screen. Once the thrill of seeing the park on screen is gone, you're left with bad acting, a plot-less script, icky characters, and not much else. How can we care for Jim when he is obsessed with two girls who look like they are fifteen years old? (And that's not the worst thing he does with the kids nearby.) If you're going to go balls-out with a movie like this, then do it. Make it bat-shit crazy. Instead, Moore teeters on a line seemingly afraid to really let it all hang out. And when he really stumbles it's just gross. (Do we really need to see a character in the midst of diarrhea?)
Sadly, the relatively brief 90-minute running time is far too long for this clever experiment gone wrong. I love the backstory more than the film itself. It's daring and gutsy. But what we're left with onscreen is vacant and soulless, which, it seems, is what Moore is trying to say about Disney. Instead, the point isn't made, and we just count the minutes until the "magic" is over. This is one escape route you shouldn't take.