Everything Everywhere All at Once
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer
Director: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
Writer: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., with James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis
Screened at: Los Angeles, CA, 11/12/22
Opens: March 25th, 2022
We’d all like to think that there might be a better version of ourselves out there somewhere. The notion of a multiverse means that could well be the case, though most of us can’t travel between dimensions and tap into personality traits that we don’t possess on this particular plane. Everything Everywhere All at Once presents a marvelously engaging and inventive picture of what it might be like to discover previously unknown worlds and abilities, indulging in the peculiar and the spectacular to deliver an entirely unique cinematic experience.
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is introduced as a dry cleaner struggling to keep her business afloat with her loyal husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) by her side and butting heads more frequently than not with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). A visit to an IRS auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis) transforms into an epic battle as a stealthier, sleeker version of Waymond takes over her husband’s body and informs Evelyn that she is at the center of a fight to save the universe, in which she is the last line of defense against the destruction of all that exists.
There are so many things to like about this film, which comes from writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as The Daniels. One of its best assets is Yeoh, who takes on the same incredulous attitude that any viewer would if presented with this scenario, which is to question its basic impossibilities before being forced to accept that this is actually happening right in front of her. Her initial doubt is gradually replaced by an increasing understanding of how to make use of what she can apparently do, even if she’s still not clear on all the rules and if any of them are actually set in stone.
To classify this film as just any one genre would be difficult, and it does a remarkable job of jumping back and forth between sci-fi, comedy, action, and family drama without skipping a beat. There is an inherent humor to the way in which “jumpers” activate skills other versions of themselves possess, which is to do something entirely contradictory and weird, yet before audiences have even finished processing one bizarre moment, that talent is being put to use and they’re forced to move to the next mode, which makes this 139-minute adventure an invigorating nonstop ride.
It’s especially rewarding to see Yeoh in this role given one of her formative international breakthroughs came two decades ago for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She’s clearly having fun in this role and also brings an entertaining impatience to Evelyn that makes her character a delight to watch. Quan is wonderful and particularly skilled at switching back between starkly different iterations of Waymond, and Hsu, a standout player from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, is excellent as one of the film’s best characters. Curtis also delivers an unexpected and unconventional turn that aids the film, as does nonagenarian James Hong.
As its title suggests, Everything Everywhere All at Once isn’t concerned with being too many things at the same time, and it leans into absurdity whenever it can find it. A world where people have hot dogs instead of fingers and Raccacoonie, what Evelyn mistakenly believes Ratatouille to be called, are just two wondrous examples. There are no limits to the creativity – and ridiculousness – of what’s featured here, and somehow, it all truly works. It’s head-spinning and sentimental at the same time, difficult to compare to any other film because of its stark originality, a quality that also makes it one of the best and most unforgettable movies of the year.
Story – A-
Acting – A-
Technical – A-
Overall – A-