It seems at this point that Disney just owns the world. For decades, the studio did a fantastic job creating a brand, and growing it out through film, television, and even theme parks. Recently though, Disney has found ways to expand themselves, making them even more of a power. A few years back, the studio bought Marvel, the superhero company, and made it even more popular, with blockbuster after blockbuster. Just this past year, they made a surprisingly bigger move, purchasing the Star Wars brand for four billion dollars from George Lucas. With all of this power, it seems like Disney would be the one company you really would not want to go after.
Yet first time writer and director Randy Moore is, with is satire Escape from Tomorrow. Not only is this film an anti-Disney flick, but it was filmed in Disney, without the company’s permission. Instead, they snuck in cameras, and just filmed most of the film there at the park. Speculation has sparked by this controversy involving the two parties, and many speculate a big lawsuit on the way for Moore, giving this film a great deal of cult hype. While Escape from Tomorrow does not quite match its pre-release hype, its a good film for sure.
Escape from Tomorrow follows a family in the magical land of Disney parks. The father, recently unemployed Jim, begins to slowly, but surely, lose his mind and sanity about the establishment.
The visual style of the film is fantastic. Randy Moore’s guerilla style of filmmaking is rough around the edges, but in a way that works for the film. The black and white color palette fits well with the film, instead of being a cheap trick. The way Moore is able to capture the ordinary details of Disney park, and show a real underlying, and sinister feeling to them is impressive. For being so limited in money and time, Moore did a great job with the look.
Surprisingly, there is a dark comedic element to the film, and it turns out to be one of the film’s biggest highlights. Moore’s script has many great lines of dialogue that poke fun at Disney and the experience there and just tell general jokes. Most of these bits are sharp and witty in the best possible way, and got big laughs out of me throughout. The dark comedy edge really adds a great deal to the film.
The acting by the film’s leads is actually decent. The actors here were in a very tough situation, having to basically act on the spot under a tight schedule and timeframe. Relatively unknown Roy Abramsohn is the lead here, and gives a worthy performance. Abramsohn nails the comedy bits with an edge, and is also able to be an extremely flawed and mean character likable and rooted in realism. His wife, played by Elena Schuber, has a much simpler role, but does a good job as well. She is able to capture what a typical mother is.
This movie is always engaging on every level due to how batshit crazy it is. Like Gary Busey on cocaine, Escape from Tomorrow goes in some wild directions that you cant believe someone could dream up, and these directions are always intresting and engaging to watch evolve. The creativity here by Moore and company is impressive, and the audacity they have at points to go the places the film does is great to see.
Escape from Tomorrow really has a good amount of concepts and messages. For a film that looked like an edgy horror film, director Randy Moore really tries to capture a great deal of intriguing messages with his script. This is where the film’s problems begin to start, the theme.
This movie in many ways is just a mess. Moore’s script delves into some interesting ideas about Disney and the madness in the conformity, but gets caught up in the weave of them. The film just has too much going on, and while it is all very interesting and intriguing, needed more focus and development for it to work at its highest possible level. As it is, Escape From Tomorrow just has too many half-baked concepts.
While the leads in the film do a solid job, the supporting cast is very mixed. Due to the fact that Moore had very limited time to really nail these performances, its understandable that most of them were poor, but that should not be an excuse. Some scenes even depend on a supporting cast member to say a critical statement, and due to the poor acting, ruins the effect that the scene was going for overall.
Moore’s script not only struggles with some of its themes and concepts, but also the story itself. The story in a lot of ways trips itself up at several points, with a lack of clarity at times where Moore is going with the story and a few plot holes. While the story ends at a satisfying point, it does not get there in a very clear or organized manner. The script just could have used a few tweaks to make a better flowing narrative.
A minor complaint, while the film succeeds most of the time from a technical aspect, there are a few mishaps that took me out of a scene. Most notably is the green screen, and the few scenes that feature it. The green screen here is awful, seemingly similar to a high school kid using it to make a video for there production class. Sure, they were under budget constraints, but it could have had more time and focus put into it.
Ambitious, some times to a fault, Escape from Tomorrow is a cult classic in the making, with some really great dark comedy and eerie depiction of Disney. It’s not perfect, but check it out on VOD and On Demand before Disney potentially destroys the movie.
Do a Shot: Every time the French girls pop up.
Take a Drink: During each batshit crazy scene.
Do a Shot: For the cat flu…you’ll see.
Take a Drink: During each creepy display of a Disney ride, childhood officially ruined.