Release Date: October 11, 2013 (Limited)
Director: Randy Moore
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 7/10
What is it about this place? If you’ve never been you always wish you could one day. If you have been you can’t wait to get back. Memories of a lifetime are created here. It’s the happiest place on earth. What could possibly go wrong at one of the most popular family destinations in the world? Apparently, plenty can and as the film’s tagline says “bad things happen everywhere.”
Randy Moore’s Escape from Tomorrow is the type of film where you don’t want to reveal too much of the plot. However it begins with a montage of people enjoying Walt Disney World. In particular we see people riding the Great Thunder Mountain Railroad where we eventually witness an accidental beheading. Bad things happen everywhere, indeed. When we first meet Jim he is on the balcony of his hotel talking on the phone. On the morning of the final day of his family’s Walt Disney World vacation, his boss tells him that he has just been fired. Not wanting to ruin his family’s trip and in an effort to postpone facing reality he doesn’t tell his wife and they head off to the park. However, as the day progresses and with the cold, hard truth of the outside world ready to crash in, Jim suddenly starts losing his grip on reality and begins to behave irrationally.
Roy Abramsohn stars as Jim. He is good as the father trying to come to grips with his life in the final hours of his visit to the Magic Kingdom. He does a fine job of conveying the angst he feels over the turmoil and confusion he faces as the day progresses. Elena Schuber co-stars as Jim’s wife, Emily. She captures the nagging wife quite well. Who hasn’t been through or witnessed the “you forgot to add sunscreen” admonishing? She is well aware of Jim’s behavior but she patiently waits for him to fess up to what the problem is. Alison Lees-Taylor is particularly memorable as a single mother Jim meets in the park.
Moore and company pulled off a minor miracle when they shot their film on location. Outside of a few green-screen scenes they are in Disney World. Utilizing personal mini-recording devices and a Canon 5D camera they were able to shoot the film while looking like tourists. The film has a gritty, guerrilla-like quality to it. Shot in black and white it has a hint of hyper-realism like you are seeing Disney but there’s clearly something a bit off about it. While likely unable to use licensed music, composer Abel Korzeniowski has created a fairly Disney World-esque score for the film. In particular when Jim and family ride “It’s a Small World” Korzeniowski’s score is substituted for the real thing.
Moore’s film is an amusing look at Walt Disney World that may leave you curious about just what may be behind that red curtain. If anything it does succeed in making one want to go back or go there for the first time which in terms of the film could make you wonder about what lies behind the desire of that inner child who longs to go back.