Starring Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber. Written and directed by Randy Moore. 14A. 90 min. Opens Oct. 25.
The whole of Escape From Tomorrow may barely live up to the audacity of its central stunt, but it’s one helluva stunt. Using a variety of guerrilla techniques, writer-director Randy Moore and his cast and crew shot the bulk of the film during multiple visits to Disney World and Disneyland, all without the permission of the highly protective entertainment empire. Not that Disney would’ve been likely to vet Escape From Tomorrow’s lurid and increasingly surreal depiction of a stressed-out family man who suffers a psychological breakdown during a visit to the Magic Kingdom with his wife and two kids. Though the film was generally deemed unreleasable when it premiered at Sundance, it has somehow evaded the Mouse’s wrath, the company perhaps being wary of the publicity a lawsuit could have drawn. The broad nature of Moore’s satire also means Escape From Tomorrow is not as savage as the movie’s instant notoriety would suggest. Really, the movie proves to be less provocative for its assault on the false ideals of corporate-controlled family fun than its clever repurposing of many of the same German expressionist and gothic horror tropes that are at the root of much Disney iconography in the first place. It also succeeds as an especially vicious portrayal of parenthood and midlife anxiety, which is why the movie has more force when it keeps it real than when it becomes a full-blown exercise in the grotesque.