The Movie Disney Couldn’t Be Bothered Discrediting
Disney are known for being a touch litigious. Surely it can’t hurt to paint some familiar characters on the wall of a low-income childcare centre…right up until Disney sues the shit out of you for copyright infringement. They once attempted to copyright a Mexican national holiday for merchandising purposes.
But what if there was a movie that went for the jugular. Not only did they make an entire movie criticising the culture and practises of the Disney company, but they secretly filmed it on site at Disneyland and Disneyworld resorts. It was released amid a marketing campaign warning everyone to see this Earth-shattering expose before the lawyers shut them down.
What is this movie, and why did Disney do nothing to stop it? Welcome to Escape From Tomorrow.
Randy Moore’s 2013 opus Escape From Tomorrow tells the story of ‘Jim’ (played by Roy Abrasnsohn), who has just been made unemployed but wants to enjoy a final day in Disney World. Whilst there he idly fantasises about all women he encounters, including what appears to be underage girls with braces on their teeth. Before long Jim experiences strange hallucinations, an evil villainous who hypnotises him into a sexual encounter and a conspiracy about corporation indoctrination and stealing imagination. Then Jim shits himself to death.
It’s a roller coaster of awfulness. It achieved some praise on release, and that confuses me because it’s a terrible, terrible movie. Badly written, directed and acted and with an unjustified degree of pretension. Randy Moore has some big reveals about Disney’s evil ways in this movie…and we’ll get to them. They’re amazing.
What made the movie notable isn’t the quality, good or bad, but the hype surrounding the release. They filmed in the Disney resorts themselves, and it suggested that the famously litigious Disney Company would take issue with that. Bringing to light the Big Reveals against the parks was considered the beginning of a grand scandal. It sounds like they went to a lot of trouble filming in the only setting that could give the idea credibility.
It’s kinda shitty of them to do this, some people are just having a holiday. Don’t film them for your wanky art movie. Technical achievement, yes, but shitty.
Since the bombastic marketing, there hasn’t been much said about the movie. You can substitute watching it for Jenny Nicholson’s brilliant take-down. She provides the background knowledge only a cast member of the parks would have, like Randy Moore monopolising the handicapped boat on rides for his secret film shoot.
This is a fairly comprehensive run down of the problems within the movie. Jenny delves into the depiction of women that seems to betray the directors own distorted world view, the depiction of the park-goers, and the insulting notion that we would empathise with the hero.
There’s a few other problems that are unaddressed. The representation of autism through Jim’s children is insulting. A note that few people praising the unorthodox production missed regards the shots that were taken outside of the parks. They stand out like a sore thumb, and when Moore has complete control of the set his direction is substantially worse. Any good direction would have been a stroke of luck.
The biggest omission from the review is why the Disney company ignored this movie. It gets a mention, as does Moore’s tendency to play up the idea that Disney lawyers were about to the burst into the room and start suing people, and we’d be lucky if the film was released in any form. Disney has not made any real statement about Escape From Tomorrow, leaving it to speculation.
A common explanation is that Disney couldn’t mount a legal defence against the film, and that the park and its visuals would not constitute breach of Copyright. Using the likeness of Walt Disney, their characters and the unsuspecting public makes this feel unlikely. It is often noted that the replacement of the ride’s musical tracks are replaced with original music, but this isn’t consistent through the film. At one point a chunk of the title song from The Three Caballeros, potentially giving Disney the grounds to make a copyright claim.
It’s also possible that Disney looked and the movie prior to release and figured that despite all the hype surrounding the secret film shoots and decided it wasn’t worth the bother. Even if the movie did have some real points to make, the packaging of these facts are so bananas that no-one would take them seriously. The ‘Cat Flu’ results in Jim dying while hacking up hairballs, leaving him with cats eyes and a Cheshire Cat grin. No-one will ever take this movie seriously.
Then there’s the most obvious reason why Disney wouldn’t bother taking this movie down: it’s goddamn nonsense. The Big Reveals of the movie are completely detached from reality. Claiming that the Disney parks are instrumental to an evil corporations attempt do…something? Steal imagination? That’s not clear at any point. Putting aside the vague concept of an evil park there are the Disneyland specific reveals.
Like the turkey legs. When Jim first meets the evil hypnotising sex-having woman she breaks the shocking, entirely true news that the ‘turkey legs’ are really made from emu, a big flightless bird native to Australia. Randy Moore included this in the movie because he believed it to be true. This urban myth has long been disproven, and the large leg size being attributed to being sourced from male birds, but Moore want’s to expose the truth. Clearly the man has never seen an emu because one their legs in drumstick form would be two feet long and blood heavy.
There’s also an ‘expose’ about the cast members playing the Princesses are really ‘high-priced courtesans’ and that ‘rich Asian businessmen’ would pay thousands for ‘one in costume’. Later in the movie, in one of the off-site filmed scenes against a shitty green screen, we see Asian businessmen groping the Princesses. This vaguely racist ascertain appears to have been plucked out of thin air. Also, I’m sure you can find a sex worker to provide this kind of weirdness, you don’t need to imply that Disney are running some prostitution ring for ‘Asian businessmen’.
It does not make sense for Disney to address these claims because they’re insane. Five minutes on Snopes with disprove all of the ones with the slightest bit of merit, and the others aren’t worth the bandwidth. Of course Disney didn’t want to acknowledge this movie, because that would elevate it above the gutter is came from. This movie is too dumb to be sued.
Randy Moore’s publicly and repeatedly made claims that Disney were about to shut him down never came to pass. The Superstar Limo ride and Chicken Little were better ideas than this movie.
Final note: there’s a better movie that was secretly filmed in Disney parks. It’s called The Further Adventures of Walt’s Frozen Head. Check it out.