"Everything Everywhere All at Once" stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Released on March 25, 2022, the film is about a woman who discovers the multiverse.
The film was written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who also directed "Swiss Army Man". They also directed the short films "Interesting Ball" and "Possibilia". The multiverse is a strange yet fascinating concept that allows audiences to witness the alternate realities of people's lives. It is often explored in superhero comics and movies, notably from DC and Marvel. However, it hasn't been experienced by characters outside of that genre. At least, not until this particular film came out. Thanks to the recent outings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the multiverse is brought back into the spotlight with DC attempting to capitalize on the resurgence with next year's "The Flash" and Marvel with "Doctor Strange". Luckily for us, we don't have to wait that long for another multiverse movie, as A24 seeks to cash in on the concept via an action-comedy. Despite not watching the filmmakers' previous film, I was highly ecstatic about watching this one, mainly since the Russo Brothers are producing it. Additionally, it has been getting some excellent reviews from critics and audiences since its release two weeks ago. Now that I found the opportunity to watch it, was it as wildly bizarre as the parallel universes? Let's find out.
The story follows Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a Chinese-American woman who runs a laundromat with her husband, Waymond (Quan). She's also dealing with several issues surrounding her family, including a visit from her father, Gong Gong (Hong), and her daughter Joy (Hsu) having a girlfriend. To make matters worse, her laundromat is being audited by the IRS. One day, she comes across an alpha version of Waymond, who explains to her the existence of parallel universes created by every choice someone makes. Evelyn also discovers the ability to access their counterparts' skills, memories, and bodies. She then must use those skills to save every last one of them when they're on the brink of destruction.
A24 has been producing films with bizarre concepts for years, mainly in the horror genre. While they can be a little alienating for general audiences, they use the weirdness to provide quality filmmaking and stand apart from modern blockbusters. This film, in particular, has to be the weirdest thing that the studio has distributed by far. At least, that's what I believed based on the trailers. The multiverse is nothing new for comic book nerds and the film industry, thanks to the recent installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, seeing it portrayed in something highly original instead of a superhero blockbuster is a massive curveball for the genre. It was an opportunity for the Daniels to show us that the parallel universes aren't just for costumed super people to traverse. Not only did they succeed in keeping that opportunity in check, but they also surpassed my expectations with their kooky and entertainingly wild barrage of color, surrealism, and heart.
The movie is a two-hour-plus acid trip that may be too much for the senses regarding its complexity, randomness, and visual effects. However, the Daniels provided a unique balance that's not too grand but not too little to keep me engaged with its consistently-paced and strangely admirable narrative. What made the film extra special, aside from its distinctive style, is how it uses the multiverse element to deliver a thoughtful, metaphoric story about family and an existential crisis. Evelyn has struggled with the household and the problems that arise in the family because of her choices. However, she later realizes the importance of those choices due to her unordinary adventure. It also showcased a mother-daughter relationship that's suitably poignant and immensely clever in terms of the screenplay. Amid its genre-defying mayhem, the film provides a riveting and heartfelt storyline that's big enough to fit into its chaotic package.
The cast was strong enough to inject some fun and energy into the concept. The main highlight of the diverse cast was none other than Michelle Yeoh herself. She was fantastic in her lead role as Evelyn. She delivered an entertaining mixture of action and comedy through her choreography and charm. However, she also wasn't afraid to provide emotional connection and sheer curiosity to the ordinary mother. Ke Huy Quan, best known for playing Short Round in "Temple of Doom", also did a great job with his performance as Waymond. Stephanie Hsu and James Hong provided some amazing moments as Joy and Gong Gong, respectively.
Along with the cast, story, and direction, the movie has a series of visual effects that are downright impressive. It has the makings of an action blockbuster yet has a budget of an independent film, which makes it even more astounding. The Daniels have wisely used their $25 million budget to craft plenty of creative practical effects and vibrant settings without relying on CGI. For films like this, it's best to offer something practical and straightforward to capture the imagination than create all of the effects from a computer. The movie also has a wonderful musical score from Son Lux that's just as strange as you would expect from a multiverse adventure.
Overall, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is a never-ending burst of vitality, energy, and chaos that's incredibly well-balanced with a thought-provoking narrative. This is something that could've been written off as a disaster regarding how undeniably surreal it looks. Fortunately, the Daniels succeed in embracing its goofiness and imagination while providing a suitable plot to stand alongside its weirdness. With its strong cast, direction, emotional weight, and incredible visuals, the film is one of the best experiences that shouldn't go unnoticed in any universe. More importantly, it serves as an excellent distraction for multiverse fans waiting for Doctor Strange or the Flash to handle this unpredictable source of disorder. If you're in the mood for something original and wacky, this movie's worth checking out.