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Escape from Tomorrow
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by Jay Seaver

"Air Pirates Funnies" for a new generation - for better or worse."
3 stars

Someday, perhaps soon, folks may accuse Randy Moore of selling out. After all, while most of the crowd for the opening-night showing of "Escape from Tomorrow" seemed to be there to cheer on poking a finger in the Walt Disney Company's eye, it wouldn't be shocking for him to make the jump to big mainstream pictures. As much as this movie is rebellious and satirical, its venom isn't scathing, and it's as much a demonstration of his ability to handle technical challenges as his desire to stick it to the man.

This is the movie which was filmed in Walt Disney World and Disneyland without any sort of permits or permissions (kind of a big deal was made of this when it played Sundance), and it happily uses the name of Siemens AG where a generic corporation would do. There's no denying that there's something genuinely enjoyable about the ballsiness of it; aside from the knowledge that the filmmakers are getting away with something, the fact that what the audience sees on screen is not necessarily a strawman created for the sole purpose of being mocked gives that mockery some teeth. When things do get crazy - which is almost right away - it wedges its way into the audience's real-world experience.

On a technical level, there's little denying that Moore and his cinematographer Lucas Lee Graham have managed something fairly impressive. For all that much of Escape from Tomorrow must have been shot like a found footage film, it doesn't look like one; the camera doesn't shake and the lighting doesn't waver. Most of the effects work is fairly good - there are some scenes that were obviously shot in front of a green screen with park footage added in later, but that's balanced by a couple of pieces that are very slick for a low-budget indie, and others where looking jarring and incongruous is part of the point. The movie is presented in sharp black and white, and that's a clever decision; aside from capturing the feel of old home movies, it gives the movie one unified look, rather than changing as the film moves around the park.

The family moving around the park isn't actually shooting home movies, though; They're a little too frazzled for that, and Jim (Roy Abramsohn) hasn't even told his wife Emily (Elena Schuber) that the phone call he got in the morning was him being laid off. Once they arrive at the Magic Kingdom, kids Eliot (Jack Dalton) and Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez) pull them in different directions, but a pair of pretty French teenagers (Danielle Safady & Annet Mahendru) tend to catch Jim's eyes - and that's before those eyes start playing tricks on him and showing him a more sinister, threatening version of the Happiest Place on Earth.

So, what's going on here beyond a gimmick? Probably just enough satire that Moore and company won't get sued. Just as Christmas can be a particularly stressful time of the year, amusement parks like those Disney operates offer little in the way of an outlet for adult frustrations, and Moore has his film play on that well enough. It's a minor swipe at an easy target, and seldom as entertaining as the movie's ventures into well-timed situational comedy or outright absurdity. The main cast is able enough, although there's a noticeable enough drop-off once you get to the secondary parts that it's a good thing they're mostly being played for broad laughs.

It may not necessarily be better to be notorious than good, but notoriety has gotten "Escape from Tomorrow" a bit further than quality alone might have. It's an amusing enough movie for Disney fans, probably more so for foes, and certain to get Randy Moore a look from some of Disney's competitors.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24633&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/16/13 21:36:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2013 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

4/22/14 Eric Eyster excellent and freaky film 4 stars
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  DVD: 29-Apr-2014


  DVD: 29-Apr-2014

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