Jim White is your average American family man. At the tail end of a theme park vacation with his loving wife and two children he is awakened by an unsettling phone call from his boss and learns that he has lost his job. Unwilling to ruin the rest of the holiday, Jim holds off on breaking the news so the family can enjoy their last day at the idyllic and beloved tourist destination. In desperate need of a distraction, he finds one amidst the long lines at the park -two attractive and fun-loving teenage girls. In his fractured state Jim falls obsessively in love, making any excuse he can to follow the girls everywhere. Along the way, his paranoid psyche spirals even further downward, and the fine line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred.
Known to most as “that film that secretly got made at Disney World” Escape from Tomorrow is more than just a jab at Disney crop and works hard to make sure it is seen as a film in its own right.
A dark comedy with surreal fantasy elements Escape from Tomorrow follows American everyman Jim White (Roy Abramsohn) as he has a mental breakdown and midlife crisis in the middle of his family holiday to Florida. Learning that he will return home to be an unemployed househusband Jim, already suffering from the strain felt by every parent who has visited Disney World with their kids, snaps somehow and finds himself in desperate need of a distraction from the intensity of reality – particularly a reality that is taking place in one of the most un-real places on the planet.
Before I go any further I would like to take a moment to expunge the rumours that Escape from Tomorrow is nothing more than a scathing commentary on Disney or a cheeky middle finger from film maker Randy Moore for evading Disney’s security staff. Escape from Tomorrow has some real filmic meat on its Disney World bones and though the setting is an important aspect it is far from the central point of the narrative. This film is about Jim White not about Disney.
Having said all of this Escape from Tomorrow is not the easiest film in the world to watch, though visually it is very well presented – one can see the care that was taken by the film makers to create strong and legitimate scenes, there is no sense of rush nor any indication that they were capturing footage illicitly under the looming shadow of the Disney police – and though the characters are well developed and portrayed it was, for me at least, just a bit too hard to nail down. Many of the aspects I expected to hate, the potential creepy leering of Jim onto the young and vivacious Danielle Safady and Annet Mahendru, the stereotypical nagging wife played by Elena Schuber, the bastardization of some of my favourite childhood characters, were not the things that made Escape from Tomorrow a tough watch; instead I felt the film was a little too excessive with the surreal, a little too alienating and ultimately a little too distracting.
Though there are some really great things in Escape from Tomorrow, most notable of all the obvious talent of debut director Moore, I just couldn’t get on with it and was in the end just a bit let down.