Escape from Tomorrow (Randy Moore, 2013)
Escape from Tomorrow was one of the most talked-about movies of 2013, not because of a compelling plot or well-drawn characters, but because it was a guerrilla project filmed at Disney World without permission. Well, the buzz worked; I had to see what all the fuss was about, so as soon as it hit Netflix, I sat down to watch it. Sometimes when there’s smoke, you get there and find out someone’s already poured water all over the campsite.
As we open, Jim (Creepshow III‘s Roy Abramsohn) is on the phone with his boss, getting fired. But, you know, what’s a job? He’s at the happiest place on earth with his wife Emily (Killer Kids‘ Elena Schuber) and kids Sara (Nefarious: Merchant of Souls‘ Katelynn Rodriguez) and Elliot (Jack Dalton in his screen debut). All is going well, albeit tenuously, until Jim spies a pair of nubile French tourists (Danielle Safady in her screen debut and Love, Gloria‘s Annet Mahendru) who seem to be flirting with him. But do they really exist, or has the stress of losing his job snapped Jim’s mind? And how can he get away from his family long enough to pursue his newfound Gallic obsession?
Here’s the big problem: you have seen this movie before. Many times. (While Moore’s decision to film in black and white was in large part driven by the guerrilla nature of the filming, he incidentally used it to cement the obvious Godard worship here.) Given that, and given that Moore puts no real twists on the plot, you’re left with the gimmick of “this movie was filmed at Disney World (and Disneyland)! Without their permission!” It strikes me that Moore could have gone two ways with this, screwball comedy and existentialist thriller. My mention of Godard above should tell you which route he chose; something tells me this movie would have been much more palatable had he gone with the other one. **