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Escape From Tomorrow
May 4, 2014

Escape From Tomorrow is infamous as the movie that was filmed at Walt Disney World and Disneyland without company permission. Given that it’s a surreal suburban horror movie, I can see why no approvals were sought.

Like many people, I suspect, I only watched it because of its setting, since I’m not the audience for movies about men’s midlife crises, which I find self-indulgent. I enjoyed the ride footage (although it could go on too long, particularly during the opening). The guerrilla film-making methods used means the shots can be oddly staged and the audio difficult to follow. There’s also some fake-looking rear projection, to keep the story moving. Presumably to avoid intellectual property violations, the music has been replaced, so while we see “It’s a Small World”, we hear something else. Some of the shots are gorgeous, though, particularly in the stark black-and-white.

Otherwise, I was bored. A father (Roy Abramsohn) has taken his family on a theme park vacation. While there, on their last day, he gets a phone call telling him he’s been let go from his job. His wife yells at him, the kids don’t listen to him, and he becomes fascinated by two French girls. He begins following them around, fantasizing about them. He also starts seeing things, such as puppets turning mean and his kids getting possessed, and cheating on his wife.

No one you recognize was part of this, and the performances are not great. Those who don’t enjoy Disney might appreciate the idea of a guy being driven crazy by the lines and family struggles, but I found it badly paced and unnecessarily confusing. The symbolism can be ham-handed, and the parts not filmed in the parks (particularly the Spaceship Earth prisoner sequence) cheesy and ridiculous.

Roy Abramsohn in Escape From Tomorrow

Roy Abramsohn in Escape From Tomorrow

That this was writer/director Randy Moore’s first movie doesn’t surprise me. In addition to the DVD, linked here, there’s a Best Buy-exclusive Blu-ray.

Special Features

There’s a 15-minute making-of about Moore’s experience at the parks with comments from the actors and Drew McWeeny of Hitfix.com. The odd inclusion of a critic explaining the movie to us made me think someone thought we wouldn’t get the meaning. The most interesting part, to me, was the discussion on how they handled this, legally.

There’s a gallery of theatrical posters, none of which are the art used on this package. I’m wondering if they’re concept designs or something, because they seem like they’d be trademark infringement. The one-minute movie trailer is also included.

Two commentaries take different perspectives. One by Moore and cinematographer Lucas Lee Graham covers making the movie. The other has lead couple Abramsohn and Elena Schuber “in character”. Haven’t I already spent enough time with them? (The studio provided a review copy.)

One Response  
Ralf Haring writes:  

I watched this because of its bizarre creation story. I wouldn’t say its a particularly good movie, but I’d give it at least an extra star for chutzpah. I actually did recognize one of the actresses about halfway through watching it. One of the French girls is a regular on the FX show The Americans (recommended). This film must have been shot quite a while ago, because the age difference is quite noticeable.

 

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