Saturday, October 12, 2013

Escape From Tomorrow

(2013) ***1/2

This is probably the first movie that I can say that I have "eagerly anticipated" in a number of years. Like many, I have fond childhood (and adult) memories of Disney World. If you're in Disney World then that means you're on vacation with the sole objective of having fun. In some ways I do subscribe to its nickname "the happiest place on earth". JPX and I went on the Haunted Mansion ride more than five times a couple of years ago. 

I am also aware of the darker aspects of Disney. I'm aware that Walt Disney fired all of the Native Americans and replaced them with animatronic bears when they threatened to unionize. There's also the ultra-conservative values, the stereotyping of minorities, the princess complex, anti-gay agendas, the vicious lawsuits, the fat people on scooters; the list goes on and on. The guerilla style filming of Escape From Tomorrow is so refreshing because it uses an amusement park that is always depicted as impossibly happy as a backdrop for a story about a man losing his mind amidst a midlife crisis. 

While vacationing at Disney Jim White gets hit with the double whammy of getting laid off and coming to terms with the fact that his marriage is doomed. Determined to complete the vacation in a happy manner for the kids' sake, he bravely soldiers on. One ride on It's a Small World is all it takes to send him over the edge. Did I mention that he's kind of a pervert? Jim is a very horny man who clearly isn't having his sexual needs met at home. His wife is an openly hostile nag and this detracts somewhat from the tension. If she was portrayed more 3 dimensionally instead of solely as a nagging witch then I could have become more emotionally invested. 

Jim comes across as a potential sex offender who has thus far controlled his urges. He crosses the line when he begins stalking a pair of young French teenage girls and this occupies a big portion of the film. Thankfully it doesn't end up in Tod Solondz territory.  

But who cares about all that, it's all about the rides, right? I counted 15 attractions featured. For the most part the family opted for the lame rides (the Dumbo ride, Mad Tea Cups, the racing cars and the *shudder* Tiki Room). At one point Jim asks his son if wants to go on Pirates of the Caribbean but the boy whines that he wants to go on the Buzz Lightyear ride instead. I never forgave him for this. 

Overall it's fun to observe them walk around the park but the subject matter will be off-putting to some. I would have much preferred a story about a guy who takes bad acid and freaks out but I'll take what I can get. 


Catfreeek said...

I'm still intrigued by this and we would have gone to see it today but Tony wasn't having it. Instead we went to see Machete Kills.

Octopunk said...

I wasn't thinking about screening this but now I may have to. I love that you list the number of attractions and fuck yeah Pirates over Buzz Lightyear. Duh!

Crystal Math said...

When I went with my family to Disneyland I had to watch my dad. Not because he was ogling French girls, but because he was acting like a kid singing along to the Tiki Room and splashing me with water on Pirates.

Great review! The juxtaposition of a happy place like Disneyland and a scary place like madness had good intentions but not the best execution.

DCD said...

One ride on It's s Small World has potential to knock a lot of people into crazy-ville.

AC said...

sounds like it doesn't quite live up to its poster.