Escape From Tomorrow: Sundance 2013

For some, Disney World isn’t “the happiest place on Earth.”

Like for Jim (Roy Abramsohn), a middle-aged man who intends to spend a fun-filled, final day with his family at Disney World, yet when the morning begins with him losing his job, the day takes many unexpected, dark twists.

What starts as an amusing movie about Jim lusting after two model-esque Parisian teenage girls (Danielle Safady and Annet Mahendru) who laugh cartoonishly as they meander through the park in short-shorts holding hands and skipping, soon turns into a bizarre series of sexual fantasy sequences Jim has about them and other women, too – even though his wife, Emily (Elena Schuber), and adorable kids, the talented pair, Elliot (Jack Dalton) and Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez), are usually right by Jim’s side.

Jim’s initial few fantasies are about the teens, like him watching them eat bananas in a seductive and clichéd fashion. (Does Disney World sell bananas?) These fantasies are heightened and saved by the wonderful, energetic European-type music like you’d hear in old black-and-white films, thanks to Abel Korzeniowski. Yet the same joke of Jim lusting after the girls goes on a few beats too many without escalation – and when there is escalation, it is very bizarre (more on that in a moment).

At first, you get it: Jim just got fired, has not yet told his wife and kids, and wants to enjoy their day at Disney World, a very everyone-is-happy backdrop. But soon his lecherous following-the-girls-around-the-park, then blatantly staring at the girls, gets a little creepy, especially in the hotel pool, where he moves toward them in the water like a shark (which is admittedly funny). But if I were those teenage girls, I’d swim far, far away. And I certainly wouldn’t invite him to walk around the park with me as one of them does.

As for structure, I have no idea what writer/director Randy Moore intended. I like the theme that no one is happy all the time (as is told by the busty princess who seduces Jim with her necklace).As Moore’s first feature, I think he puts forth a noble, creative effort that gets lost among the princesses and fairytales. And given that he and his crew filmed at Disney World on the down-low, his end result is even more impressive.  

Perhaps with twenty-to-thirty minutes cut, Escape From Tomorrow would be easier to digest. As it is now, the narrative gets lost and the real, relatable story the film starts with soon gets as dizzying as a ride on the Tea Cups.

Moments I don’t know how to wrap my head around include:

-A sexual tryst Jim has with a retired princess-turned-witch – while his daughter is in the next room with the princess’s son.

-Jim’s daughter getting kidnapped by the ex-princess (above).

-Jim’s very disturbing bathroom “cat flu” scene, where we see him have stomach flu-like results on and near the toilet.

Rumor has it that Escape From Tomorrow won’t be released due to unapproved Disney World footage, but if it is, see it at your own risk. You don’t have to see Escape From Tomorrow to know that Disney World – or life – is not always the happiest place on Earth. You can learn that on your own.