Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Escape from Tomorrow (2013) ***

NR, 90 min.
Director/Writer: Randy Moore
Starring: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Jack Dalton, Danielle Safady, Annet Mahendru, Lee Armstrong, Alison Lees-Taylor

I’m not sure you can fully appreciate “Escape From Tomorrow” if you aren’t a parent and haven’t been to either Disney World or Disneyland. I fulfill all these criteria. I’ve taken my family to both Disney World and Disneyland, and I can easily understand how Disney World and Epcot could send a father over the edge.

The story takes place on the final day of a family vacation at the Disney World Florida Parks resort. On the balcony of their on site hotel room, the father learns that he has lost his job. After delivering the bad news, the man’s boss then informs him that he absolutely must ride the Soarin’ ride in Epcot. This is the type of mentality that Disney Parks inspires.

He keeps this news from his wife, even after his evil kid locks him out on the balcony. They proceed into their final day of vacation. After a time the father starts to see visions of demon-faced animatronic kids on the It’s a Small World ride. Of course, this isn’t quite fantasy. If you do ride that one enough times you will start seeing flashes of evil everywhere; and if your kids are the right age, they will insist that it is the best ride in the park.

The man also sees two young women all around the park and finds himself making excuses to follow them. I suppose Disney stirs the fantasy desires of all ages. As the day goes along the man’s visions and the strange situations in which he finds himself grow in nature until eventually he becomes the prisoner of a mad scientist based under the giant Epcot ball that houses the Spaceship Earth ride. Yeah, it gets really weird.

In truth, much of the film’s action and dialogue could be tightened up a bit. The acting isn’t top notch, but it works for the material. What’s truly remarkable about the film, however, is that it was filmed on location at Disney World without the permission of the park’s owners. This is what is called guerilla filmmaking. The amount of location shooting they achieve and their ability to tell their story under these guerilla filming circumstances is quite impressive. The film’s website even has a clock on it counting how many consecutive days they’ve gone since the film’s release without getting sued by Disney.

Although what the filmmakers do achieve with this film is quite impressive, I almost wanted it to be a better movie, powerful enough in content to match it’s remarkable creation. Still, it is a good movie with a good story that will find a point of understanding for those who have experienced the Disney Parks in a similar fashion. It is disturbing, as it should be. It is also funny and witty and at times down right odd. It’s a satisfying experience for those cineastes looking for something off the beaten path. But, there is no way this family could cover as much of the Disney experience as they do here in one day.

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