'Escape From Tomorrow' Sundance Film Festival review: Disney World-shot guaranteed cult movie
The claim to fame for this micro-budget movie is that it was filmed in Disney World without permission -- the cast and crew used season passes to gain admission over several weeks and communicated covertly while the park was fully operational -- a legally ambiguous choice that has earned the filmmakers significant press. (But may not be the hurdle to commercial release that some initially believed.)
The plot is a twisted parody of the Disney experience, about a fairly average family -- dad (Roy Abramsohn), mom (Elena Schuber), two kids (Jack Dalton, Katelynn Rodriguez) -- and their unexpectedly twisted vacation. It'll find a cult following, but the hype at Sundance has been overblown enough to obscure one small problem: the movie isn't good.
It's definitely weird, but the kind of weird that's severely compromised by a limited imagination (and even more limited budget). Bad acting, cheap visual effects, dull scripting and an ill-advised running time over 100 minutes are pretty major hurdles to overcome in order to enjoy the "Escape From Tomorrow" experience.
Anyone looking for a movie that skewers Disney's self-made image as the "Happiest Place on Earth" will get their wish granted, but simply seeing the amateur actors actually riding on the rides doesn't feel subversive enough for the concept. Especially when the filmmaker's wildest notions include the father's tedious attraction to a pair of French teenagers and (what else?) a faded Disney princess who's become a malicious witch.
Expect "Escape From Tomorrow" to find its biggest fans among those who enjoy watching films in altered states. There's nothing funny about this one if you're stone cold sober.
More Sundance reviews:
"Ain't Them Bodies Saints"
"Kill Your Darlings"
"The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete"