Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fantastic Fest 2013 Review: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW - Javi's Take.

Directed by: Randy Moore
Written by: Randy Moore
Starring: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, and Jack Dalton
Synopsis: After losing his job during his last day of vacation, a man's trip through a theme park starts to unravel something more sinister.

To get it out of the way, the hype (and the marketing) of this movie revolves a lot of how it was made. Badass Digest editor-in-chief, Devin Faraci, introduced the film and mentioned that during Sundance, where ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW premiered, a lot of press tried to watch it because they were sure that the movie would never be released. The movie, dealing with a family man's deteriorating sanity, was shot all incognito at D___ny World without the permission of the lawsuit-happy corporation. Unfortunately, the majority of the conversation of the movie in the Q&A seemed to revolve around that aspect. Don't misunderstand, the shots they were taking are breathtaking in their beauty, showing a side of the Happiest Place on Earth, and the difficulty of getting shots should be appreciated. But the important thing, it's a meditation on the average American male psyche and insecurities in the most surreal way.

The father character, Jack, is a fun goofball that just wants to make out with his wife, Shelley, and have fun with his kids. Shelley, seems to not be interested in him. At the beginning of the movie, Jack loses his job during the last day of vacation. Adding to his stress, his kids are an unruly bunch that just HAVE to go on a certain ride and don't want to eat, his wife appears to only care for kids and not her husband. Just when it seemed that the day couldn't get worse, couple of French girls catch Jacks's attention, this sets off a chain of effects that culminates with a terrifying and surreal trip through the well-known theme park.

Even if it's not stated properly, the backdrop of the park provides a great place for this family to work through some of their issues. As director Randy Moore talked about, the importance of D___ny World is that you get to see the wide range of emotion that a human can have between utter ecstasy and utter rage and despair. And you see the family going through all of those emotions and more. On a personal note, there is something very appealing about films that shows the dark side of something that is known to be subjectively very lighthearted, such as the 1950's or, in this movie's case, the world of Mr. Walt Disney.

If there was going to be a negative aspect is the last third of the movie where a lot of the concepts that end up having a lot of impact are strangely thrown in and feel tacked on. Thankfully, the movie has the last 60-70 minutes to stand on where its engrossing visuals and disturbing visuals to make this an amazing experience.

There is something important about ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW in its portrayal of the emotional darkness of what is supposed to be a happy-go-lucky time and show the darker aspects that are bubbling at the surface there. Think of movies like AMERICAN BEAUTY which show the evil parts of suburbia. No happiness can ever come without strife, without pain, without sorrow, and the way that TOMORROW showcases a man's world breaking down and being built back up. It gets the point across perfectly while giving us an almost unprecedented look into a crazy place.

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