Escape From Tomorrow (2013)
September 27, 2014 7:09 PM - Subscribe

In this black comedy, Jim is an unsatisfied middle aged man on vacation with his family at Disney World. While his family frolics through the park and is enthralled with the sights and sounds of Disney, Jim finds himself inexplicably obsessed with two French teenage girls. The park environment soon turns to something more sinister as Jim uncovers its secrets. Jim must protect his adventurous kids, placate his suspicious wife and defend himself against the happiest place on Earth.
posted by emkelley (6 comments total)
This was the movie that I was most excited to see at EbertFest last year and it ended up being the one that I was most disappointed in. I love the conceit of the concept of doing a guerrilla movie at Disney World but I just wish that they'd written a better script to go with it.
posted by octothorpe at 4:50 AM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I saw it (like you) at EbertFest, and I liked it quite a bit. I've never been to a Disney park or anything similar, but my husband has often related stories of encountering fathers who are inches away from throwing their children in a pool to drown at any given moment.

The thing I remember most about the experience was sitting next to an older guy who was very vocal about not only not liking it, but not getting it. Near the end, he kept saying, "Why is everybody laughing? WHY IS EVERYBODY LAUGHING???" Conversely, he adored the movie that followed, The Spectacular Now, which I not only hated but felt was irresponsible in its treatment of drinking (among other things). He was gushing, "Oh, it's so REAL and HONEST!" when that was exactly how I DIDN'T feel about it.

So I think Escape From Tomorrow is definitely a "you like it or you don't" prospect. But I did enjoy getting drawn into the increasingly skewed perspective.

Also, I REALLY enjoyed referring to our sniffly friend as having cat flu.
posted by Madamina at 9:31 AM on September 28, 2014

Agreed, octothorpe. I think there could have been a really amazing movie done in more or less the same basic style that could have said a lot of interesting things about the Walt Disney Company's takeover of the American imagination over the last century. Add to that the inherent funhouse-totalitarianism of the Disney theme park brand and the crypto-archaeology associated with it (hidden Mickeys, secret apartments inside attractions, the underground tunnel network, etc.), and you have all the makings of a really unsettling piece of paranoid pop-culture cinema.

Unfortunately, what we got seemed less interested in tackling the semiotics of Disney as opposed to addressing the filmmaker's own personal hobbyhorses and kinks: The weirdly specific obsession with the Siemens corporation; the tossed-off, yet pivotal "cat flu" subplot; the main character's unmotivated disgust towards his wife and dogged sexual pursuit of (it must be said) underage teen girls.

Also, not only can basically every FX shot in the movie can be seen in the trailer, but the Magic Kingdom and Epcot park settings themselves feel underutilized too. Aside from a few sequences, the filmmakers could have shot this movie at basically any theme park in the lower 48 states. There's a ton of obvious static green-screen shots that completely undercut the realism of the handheld verite-style footage, and the interior shots of the attractions (which again can mostly be seen in the trailer) don't look especially different from videos that anybody can look up on Youtube.

Ultimately, I got the sense that the filmmakers chose the WDW setting not because they had anything in particular to say about Disney or the corporatization of family fun, but as a crazy stunt to draw attention to their not-terribly-interesting male midlife crisis story.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2014

I was so excited about this movie, and I'm so sad that it turned out as blah as it did. I would kind of rather watch a movie about this movie being made, because it sounds like the filmmakers were really dedicated and the cast and crew did some amazing work in getting this put together. Sadly, I think some of the Disney fan videos on YouTube (the one where the engaged couple dies/gets trapped on the Haunted Mansion is my favorite) are actually better quality.
posted by xingcat at 6:37 AM on September 29, 2014

I thought it was great given the constraints. Some truly dark moments in it.
posted by lalochezia at 8:48 AM on January 5, 2015

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