‘Escape From Tomorrow’ captures one dad’s Disney-fied meltdown
‘Escape From Tomorrow’
Director: Randy Moore
Stars: Roy Abrahamson, Elena Schuber
2 (out of 5) Globes
For a corporate colossus, Disney is shockingly, perhaps inexplicably (and only relatively speaking) lax when it comes to allowing regular citizens use of their intellectual property. They target tiny day care centers that use Mickey Mouse drawings without permission, but any visitor to their parks is free to upload to YouTube videos of their jaunts without getting sued out of existence. That still makes the existence of Randy Moore’s “Escape From Tomorrow” — an entire, mostly clean and professional-looking film shot largely in Disneyland and Disney World without permission — an impressive stunt. Of course, it’s more than just a stunt — just not nearly much more than that.
Introduced getting unceremoniously fired over the phone, Jim (Roy Abrahamson) is a man-child and almost certainly an ex-frat boy who has clearly never adjusted to adult life. The strains of financial and parental/spousal responsibility come to a head on the final day of a lengthy entrapment within the Magic Kingdom and vicinity. As he waits in endless lines and deals with high-maintenance children and a wife too harried for impromptu kisses (or attempted make-out sessions), Jim finds his attention skeezily drawn to a pair of French girls who are just young enough to give the film an unsettling edge. (One even has braces.)
Jim also occasionally — too occasionally — experiences weird visions, particularly when trapped inside the “It’s a Small World” ride. This is all setting up the insane second half, complete with an “Intermission” title card that promises a shift from the down-to-earth to the demented. To say that what follows is a massive disappointment is an understatement. Moore has some promising ideas — something involving robots, psychotic ex-staffers and “the real secret” of the park — but they’re half-baked notions that add to a sputtering capper, one that misses true inspiration by several miles.
Moore may have needed a co-conspirator for his second half, but he’s very at home with the idea of a developmentally arrested dad losing his marbles while dealing with a barely picture perfect family and constant manufactured fun. Some laughable (if understandably used) green screen aside, the film is a beaut, with high resolution black-and-white giving a familiar family hot spot a haunting poetry, particularly any time it gets dark. And Abrahamson is a believable everyidiot, so slovenly it’s a shock to learn he’s a real actor. Its guerilla hook aside, “Escape From Tomorrow” is better when it’s realistic and not when it goes fun and fancy free.