Everything Everywhere All at Once takes a creative look at familiar topics by way of the multiverse concept.
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis
Directed by: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
he Daniels take Hollywood’s current obsession with multiverses and let their imagination run wild in Everything Everywhere All At Once, a zany absurdist romp that is equal parts weird and wonderful.
Familial conflict lies at the heart of this universe-hopping tale, as the movie takes a creative, quirky look at topics like love, regret, yearning, acceptance, and kindness, while drenching its narrative in varying shades of peace and chaos.
The film tells the story of Evelyn (a terrific Michelle Yeoh), an overwhelmed laundromat owner whose business is in trouble and marriage is on the rocks.
Her stress levels are skyrocketing because of an ongoing IRS audit – being conducted by the very strict inspector Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) – as well as the arrival of her demanding father (James Hong) from Hong Kong. Also weighing on her is her strained relationship with her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), while the latter is hurting because of her mother’s inability to accept her girlfriend, Becky (Tallie Medel).
On the verge of a breakdown, Evelyn’s dissatisfied life is interrupted when her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, excellent in his role) is briefly embodied by an alternative version of himself. Alpha Waymond tells Evelyn about the existence of multiple universes, since every choice made leads to a different reality, and teaches her how to access the life and skills of her parallel universe counterparts.
It soon becomes apparent that the multiverse is in trouble because of the emergence of a mysterious figure, and it is up to Evelyn to make things right.
A mishmash of drama, sci-fi, action, and absurdist comedy, Everything Everywhere All at Once proves that you can present well-worn concepts in an inventive way. The movie revels in its silliness and quirkiness while grounding its drama in a mother’s moving attempt to reconnect with her daughter, and ultimately leaves you wishing more filmmakers were given the freedom to explore and experiment like the Daniels have here.
The project does something meaningful with the multiverse concept instead of just using it as a playing field, and while some of its more crude comedy may not work for everyone, you know a movie is doing something right when it turns watching rocks into a captivating, fulfilling experience.
Beautifully crafted and brilliantly executed, Everything Everywhere All at Once is simultaneously confusing and enlightening, and – unlike many of its big screen counterparts – actually leaves you with something to think about. (Be warned though: side effects of this viewing experience may include extensive contemplation on your own existence and the inability to look at bagels the same way ever again.)
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection