By: Brendan Graham
The multiverse theory suggests that we may not be the only universe out there, and in fact, there may be hundreds. That could mean that there are hundreds of different versions of you and me, all with different lives, different experiences, and different outcomes. Maybe in a different universe, instead of writing reviews, I’m writing screenplays or directing movies. Parallel me sounds pretty cool, honestly. That's hundreds of different life skills that we wish we could tap into to make our current existence better (kind of like downloading abilities to your brain like in The Matrix).
Sure, the multiverse in film isn't something we haven’t seen before. I mean, Marvel has dabbled in it multiple times already, but we haven’t seen it portrayed quite like EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, and folks, you’re in for a real treat. This is quite possibly one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.
We are introduced to Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese-American laundromat owner that is struggling to keep her life together. Her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is feeling disconnected from his wife, and doesn’t feel like she loves him anymore. He’s ready with divorce papers in his hand. Her father, Gong (James Hong) doesn’t respect her life choices or how she’s raised her child. Her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is struggling to find similar acceptance from her mother about her own choices, is suffering from depression, and isn’t sure if she fits in this family anymore. To add to the conflict, they are also being audited by the IRS, and have to meet with an incredibly grumpy (and memorable) agent Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis).
On the day of the meeting to go over assets to save their business, Evelyn is visited by her husband from another universe, who warns her of a great evil that is about to destroy every universe in existence, and how she’s the only one that can stop it. She is given a headset that allows her to link up with parallel versions of herself, and gain that special skill, and with these new skill sets, she must fight to save her universe and others from destruction. This film is incredibly difficult to describe without revealing too much, the rest you’ll have to see on your own.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE is broken up into three chapters, one for each part of the title, and yes the title truly fits here. This film is a lot, but not on a scale that feels too grand or hard to follow. The film is quite technically impressive, with a style of editing that's fast-paced, but not distracting. The jumps between worlds are some of the best effects I’ve seen since the original Matrix. Your mind will be blown, trust me. The visuals are absolutely stunning, the choreographed fights are spectacular (the ones with a fanny pack and a dog were crowd favorites), and the story is a breathtaking journey that will have your gut hurting from laughing at the sheer insanity on screen, and moments later have you fighting back tears from just how relatable and often touching the story is.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE doesn’t hold itself back from jumping in and out of different genres, in fact, it does it quite effortlessly. It’s also ridiculously violent at times and has some sexual references in some of the fights (the use of sex toys as weapons comes to mind). The directors, known as The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), have married humor and emotion before with the odd Swiss Army Man (where Daniel Radcliffe played a bloated, farting corpse).
Yeoh is an absolute triumph; she’s funny, relatable, and still one hell of an action star. Her ability to jump from one type of character to another so quickly was impressive. It was also great to see Quan return to the world of acting (you may recognize him from The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). He’s also quite comical, but delivered some of the hardest-hitting dialogue with such ease. I think we have a rising star on our hands with Hsu, as she carries some of the biggest movie moments on her shoulders with such ease and power. (I can’t really say why, no spoilers here). Genre favorite Curtis must have had a blast with Deidre, from the wirework and the costumes, she puts in a memorable performance as well.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE on paper may not sound like a horror movie, but it does dabble in some dark subjects, and tackles the theme of intergenerational trauma and the vicious cycle it creates. Evelyn’s father disapproved of her life, and her choice of husband and is incredibly critical of her daughter’s inability to speak Chinese. We see how this has deeply affected Evelyn and how she is passing this same judgment and criticism onto her own daughter. The topic of depression is big here, as well as self-worth, and regretting your life choices. If emotional suffering doesn’t count as horrific, I don’t know what to tell you here. Thinking about what could have been is frightening, because we never know what life we gave up if we had made different choices, and that itself is a terrifying black hole we can trap ourselves in.
At its core, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE is about a woman dealing with her past trauma, learning to cope with it, and moving on. In between the bonkers stunts and outrageous fight scenes, it is a film about a broken family that I found to be incredibly touching. There are not enough words to describe how incredible this movie is, nor do I have the ability to fully depict it in writing. It’s ridiculous, it’s funny, it’s thought-provoking, it’s emotional, and it’s everything you could ever want from a film. All I can say is that I think EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, it’s genuine movie magic, and you need to see it as soon as possible.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE is now playing in theaters.