Escape From Tomorrow – Lynchian

I’m not like most of my friends; I like to work for my movies. To me, I’m happy to take on a film and see if I can find something different from what other people might catch. I get that a lot when I watch anything by David Lynch, Terrence Malick, or Alejandro Jodorowsky; I do it both for the challenge and my overall enjoyment of film. However, there are times when I take something on and I’m kind of left with a feeling of bewilderment that I’m bewildered that I have….follow? Well don’t worry, because I’m having a hard time myself after still trying to digest “Escape From Tomorrow,” an extremely Lynchian take on the hidden horrors of The Happiest Place on Earth; Walt Disney World.

“Escape” is the tale of a family trip to Disney that takes a strange turn when Jim, the patriarch of the family, finds out that he has just lost his job on the last day of the trip. Things are harmless enough to start the day, but Jim begins to slowly lose his grip on reality as the day wears on. Between a pair of potentially underage French girls, secret Disney scientists, and Japanese businessmen that pay top dollar for Disney Princesses, this isn’t your typical day at Disney.

I’ll start with the merits of “Escape.” For one, it takes balls to pretty much lampoon and make a dark film about Disney World. The “guerrilla-style” film-making approach also hits home for me because I can remember all the time I went to Disney World and my dad would film the entire trip, even when rides specifically told people not to film while on the rides. The black-and-white technique also adds an eeriness to the proceedings and reminds me a lot of what Lynch did with “Eraserhead” and “The Elephant Man.”

Overall, the performances are decent enough. Jim, played by Roy Abramsohn, leads the way, and the performances by his two children, Sara and Elliot, played by Katelynn Rodriguez and Jack Dalton, respectively, are also very strong. However, “Escape” isn’t so much about the performances, but what is going on around the actors. Repeated viewings, if you can handle more than one viewing, would be suggested in order to understand the narrative and how many different things are happening in the background; just like any other film that prides itself on being thought of as Lynchian.

What I also enjoyed is the the use of imagination as a main theme. When you’re young, you go to Disney and think all of the characters are real and your young mind runs away with you. Now imagine what an adult might think about when they are walking through Disney, and think even more what an adult might think or see after they’ve lost their job, and think even more when that adult is drunk. A lot of interesting things could be happening. Too many times in films, the focus is always on the imagination of a child, and it’s an interesting decision to delve into the mind of an adult who is having a very bad day in a place where everything should be Disney Princesses and over-priced food.

While being Lynchian might be one of it’s greatest attractions, it’s also the biggest weakness for “Escape.” It’s truly a hard film to get your head around. Instead of being a film, “Escape” is also a series of vignette’s that happen to be taking place around Disney World, so there is a lot of disjointed narrative and you can easily be lost if you’re not paying attention. “Escape” definitely isn’t for the passive film fan. I’d like to bring up more about the plot and where the film goes, but as I said before, if I like to work for my films, why would I expect anything less from others.

All in all, “Escape” is a journey that might not be for everyone, but it is an interesting film from both a film-making perspective and the fact that the film is pretty much doing what a lot of people get thrown into Disney Jail for; making a mockery out of “god” who is Walt Disney and his apostle, Mickey Mouse.

Fun Fact: In 2009, a 60-year-old man named John Moyer was convicted of misdemeanor battery for groping Brittney McGoldrick, who was wearing a Minnie Mouse costume at Disney World. See more creepy stuff here

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