ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2014)
reviewed by Audy Elliott
“You can’t escape it you know, bad things happen everywhere.” 
- Crazy random woman to the main character Jim (Roy Abramsohm)

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Truer words have never rung louder in my ears. Jim, who is trying to assemble any type of normalcy in this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ influenced white rabbit chasing narrative, doesn’t want to leave the world of Walt, even though warnings around every corner subliminally urge him otherwise. Like our main character, I wanted to escape the horrifically acted scenes and indiscernible plot, but with the beautiful, seductive façade of the camera lens, it compelled me to stay with its devilish Cheshire grin.

KEYWORDS
Perverse, resentful, audacious, incoherent, cheaply surrealistic, visually striking, low budget, goofy (Not the character)

THE GOOD 
Ingenious Concept
Audacious Guerrilla Style - Neo Realistic Filmmaking
Attractive black and white cinematography
Usage of cynical directorial commentary
Satirical undercurrent tone

THE BAD
Maddeningly incomprehensible plot
Pulls punches directed at Disney
Main Character is a detestable pervert
Weak narrative
Sophomoric in tone

WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT
A middle aged American, husband, self loathing schlep and father (Abramsohm - Monk, Franklin and Bash) of two learns that he loses his job while on a family vacation at Walt Disney World (No copyright infringement – please don’t come after me Mickey). He soon embarks on a park hopping excursion between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot and, as the stress eats at him, he starts to lose his sanity due to the claustrophobia emitted from the “happiest place on earth."

WHAT THE MOVIE IS REALLY ABOUT
This movie’s main attractiveness that separates it from other film festival darlings is that director, Randy Moore, shot this film at the actual Walt Disney World resort without permission. The whole film’s story, scenes, and verisimilitudes were all at the expense of an uncontrolled open environment while shrouded with the threat of possibly being caught by Big “Mouse Eared” Brother. Moore shot this film during operational park hours, and communicated with his actors via iPhones, where, case in point – plot points and script changes were given to the actors and production staff as a way to communicate around the live environment of the park’s actual paying customers. Because Moore didn’t have filming permission or creative license, the guerrilla filmmaking approach was a godsend to this film and by osmosis us the audience, but up to a certain point. Due to the aforementioned ballsy shooting on park property, and possible legal ramifications, Moore went to South Korea for post production so Disney would not find out and take his soul for all eternity. The subtext of the film derives from Moore’s personal reconciliation in which he strives for a dudgeon commentary towards Disney through his cinematic avatar Jim and his journey.

This movie for all of its intended art purposes is split right down the middle. Technically, you can see that Moore, a former film student, has a firm grasp to make an aesthetically pleasing film. Unfortunately for us, he also wanted a writing credit. The screenplay of this movie makes absolute no sense whatsoever to where I’m still trying to piece together Jim’s story and struggle. Jim is portrayed as a man who, as a recipient of bad news, is trying to do the honorable thing and withhold it from his family so they can move forward with the rest of the vacation. However, in his intention to be honorable, chooses to ultimately give in and self-destruct – and with that self destruction he succumbs to the machinations of the plot and the weak surrealism inhabiting each movie frame. You don’t once feel for this guy, nor wish for his betterment. He is not redeemable, like the hobo at the liquor store you give a wrinkled dollar to isn’t. Jim is portrayed as some gadfly that is let loose with no one (wife included) being able to corral him, but then again does anyone care to in the first place? There is a truth to the performance of Jim. He is always meant to be a jackass no matter what the mood calls for. This isn’t Indiana Jones. This is a jackass Indiana Jones if Indy could hang himself by his own whip. Additionally, Moore, in my opinion handles the film too safe. You can see in the film’s message that there is a conflict in his commentary. On one hand Moore wants to eviscerate Disney, due to his personal terrible childhood familial experiences at the park, but there is a begrudging reverence or deep rooted hidden fondness exemplified by an insincere anger towards Disney that betrays not only his sensitivity but also the audience’s.  Moreover, Jim finally meets face to face one of the French fourteen year-old girls that he’s been following throughout the park in a “Woody Allen this isn’t bad right?” kind of way. In this encounter Jim and the camera pull up to the girl for an intimate moment in which Jim’s attraction is shattered by the girl spitting in his face in slow motion. It's a tight, art house camera shot that represents in a metaphorically kitschy way, the film's symbolic message of Moore’s feelings in how he views Disney in a receptive but hurtful manner.

KEY SCENE
The most delirious moment of the movie comes in the beginning when Jim, with his family, traverses through ‘it’s a small world’. In this scene, exhibited and deliciously shot - is the movie at its most cynical, funny, satirical eye roll that could only be possibly understood by those who dared to experience the ride against their better judgment.

CONCLUSION
This movie for all of its strengths and weaknesses is entertaining but up to a certain point. It never takes itself too seriously and neither should the viewer. However, having said that, this is a tone deaf derivation of the shining, that in my opinion, had Moore allowed himself to follow surrealistic movie codes of Kubrick’s aforementioned film or Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ with a hard driven tangibility of Jim’s mental deterioration, we would have a more satisfying conclusion amid the personal axe-grinding. Regardless of plot holes, choppy acting and narrative shitty-ness, this movie does offer a breadth of fan boy inspired filmmaking that would make even Walt slightly proud. 
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2 out of 4

 


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