ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW is a movie that most people had assumed would never see the light of day. Having filmed guerrilla style at Disney World and Disney Land with real actors and a small crew, director Randy Moore has so far been able to share his movie without a word from Disney legal. I’ve been wondering when they might finally bring the hammer down on Moore and company, but after last night’s screening @ArtsEmerson I think I’m beginning to understand why they haven’t reached out yet.
This is not a movie that is going to be a huge commercial success; even last night’s free screening was half empty. It is not a movie that is going to win a lot of awards or turn many heads besides that from the initial shock that someone filmed at Disney without permission. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW isn’t very critical of Disney so there isn’t a big issue there either. The film is more concerned with Disney’s princesses and our fascination with them. There just doesn’t seem to be a good reason to sue the filmmakers and create bad press for themselves.
The trailer I watched had me believing I was in for a weird trip through the underbelly of Disney, however it was actually a fairly straightforward dark comedy. The movie follows a depressed middle-aged man who may have some unresolved Freudian issues from his first trip to the park as a child. While touring the park with his family on the last day of his trip, our protagonist begins obsessing over two very young Parisian girls. Even dragging his kids onto roller coaster rides just to stay within eyesight of them. At one point he and his son talk about how beautiful they are and you begin to see this man devolving to a younger, more primal state. His wife denies him every sexual advance, he begins drinking too much, eating turkey legs, he curses in front of his children, he is basically Homer Simpson come to life. It seems that he is projecting his Disney princess fantasies onto this young Parisian girl. Someone who he believes could free him of his prude wife whom he compares to Emily Dickinson.
The movie does dip into some more visually bizarre scenes where Disney characters turn into demons that startle the parents. While visually interesting, none of these themes get explored too far below the surface. Another lost opportunity is with in an older female character that we come to discover was once a Princess at the park but lost her job after an accident with a child. There is clearly some resentment towards Disney coming from the filmmakers but the movie gets a bit muddied going in too many directions to tell exactly what their gripe is. However the movie is still quite the achievement.
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW looks and sounds remarkably polished for something that was captured on DSLRs and pocket audio recorders. There are some scenes shot on sound stages and other more practical hotel locations but it doesn’t distract from the rest of the wonderful footage they got at the actual Disney parks. The movie is quite funny throughout and the acting is pretty top notch considering their limitations. It also has a pretty tremendous score from Abel Korzeniowski who composed the soundtrack for A SINGLE MAN. It’s almost hard to believe they really did shoot it guerrilla style and that this isn’t some weird marketing ploy from Disney. On my way out of the theater I overheard several different people saying, “I think I liked it,” and I have to admit I feel the same way. Maybe another viewing will solidify my opinion one-way or the other. While I can’t say this is a must see; it’s certainly something worth checking out if you have the chance.