There are very few films made today that someone can claim to be unique and creative. With the onslaught of Marvel films, various franchises, and sequels abound…it isn’t everyday that we bear witness to a truly eccentric masterpiece of cinema. And yet, even set against a backdrop of box office failures and very little surprises in 2022, audiences have been given a gift of triumphant proportions in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Early in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” we meet laundromat owner Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) who is seemingly down on her luck as she prepares for an audit of her taxes with the IRS. We are introduced to a cast of characters that includes Evelyn’s husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), elderly father Gong Gong (James Hong), as well as patrons of their failing establishment. Evelyn’s husband doesn’t take life too seriously, while her daughter is a disappointment in Evelyn’s eyes.
At the IRS, Evelyn is confronted with a sudden change in her husband’s demeanor, as he quickly walks her through steps to take in order to change her perception of the events that will soon occur. Gifted with these written instructions, Evelyn decides what to do as she is presented with dire consequences from the IRS Agent (Jamie Lee Curtis) that is assigned to her case. Reviewing the strange instructions once more, she switches her shoes to the wrong feet, imagines that she’s in the IRS janitor’s closet, then presses the green button on a bluetooth-like device her “husband” gave her to wear in her ears.
Here’s where the fun begins.
Evelyn suddenly jumps into the janitor’s closet, the first of many jumps she will take for the better part of the day. A newer version of Waymond joins her in the closet, and he describes the multiverse in great detail. There are other versions of Evelyn that exist in other universes, including a fighter, a famous singer, and an actress. She is presented with the idea that every distraction, every disappointment has led these versions to where they are in their lives. Everyone Evelyn loves is in danger from a malevolent force named Jobu Tupaki, and it’s up to Evelyn to save the world by traversing the other universes that are joining with the lives she could have led.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is stunningly original, funny, thought-provoking and incredibly effective. Every character that is introduced by writer/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively named “The Daniels”) in the first twenty minutes of the film has a purpose to Evelyn’s mission, which is often demonstrated by their ability to jump from one universe to the next. There are also ridiculous situations that every character finds themselves in, which includes butt plugs, dildos, hot dogs for fingers, kung fu fighting, orange soda, bug sniffing, and bagels. We see many versions of every character, including the big reveal that the villain Jobu is one of those closest to Evelyn.
The skills Evelyn learns when jumping to other universes helps her to defeat the obstacles in her own world. However, many of these obstacles are internal and bring about necessary changes to alleviate the struggles that abound in every scene. An all-star cast contributes to the film's massive success, but it's Yeoh's performance that brings the story home.
At the heart of it all, we ride a roller coaster of emotions that are inventive, complex, stimulating, and raw. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” tugs at the heartstrings and every universe within this gloriously chaotic film sheds light on familial relationships like never before. It is a perfect film, where somehow nothing matters and yet simultaneously everything in the universe is so much bigger than we all realize.
Ticket rating: 🎟🎟🎟🎟🎟