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Everything Everywhere poster

Everything Everywhere All At Once

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What it’s about:

Evelyn Wang is a Chinese American woman struggling to keep her family, taxes, and life together. While on a dreaded visit to the IRS, an alternate version of her husband, Waymond, takes over his body and exposes Evelyn to a phenomenon known as “verse jumping.”

Names you might know:

Everything Everywhere All at Once comes from the director/writer duo known simply as “the Daniels,” consisting of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man). It stars Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Star Trek: DiscoveryCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Stephanie Hsu (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Ke Huy Quan (Goonies and Indiana Jones), James Hong (Turning Red), and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween and Knives Out).

Why it’s worth your time:

If you have seen other projects by the Daniels, like Swiss Army Man, you know to expect some off-the-wall storytelling and imagery laden with life lessons. But with Everything Everywhere All At Once, the Daniels hold nothing back and utilize their talent, creativity, and imagination to bring an amazing film to life. Along with the exceptional acting, the Daniels’ unconventional filmmaking style is worth critics and filmmakers going crazy over. Plus, it was produced by A24 Films, which tends to put out unique, innovative, and just good overall content.

A24 Films

Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, co-owner of a failing laundromat with her loving husband, Waymond Wong (Ke Huy Quan). Yeoh’s performance is both touching and hilarious as she learns how to tap into “alternate versions” of herself. The audience witnesses Evelyn’s transition from a regretful and dissatisfied mother and wife to a self-aware, loving person. Her hopelessness as a woman pursuing success in various avenues just to be met with consistent failure shows on screen. She nails every character she taps into.

Besides the always fantastic Yeoh, it’s no surprise that veterans Jamie Lee Curtis, Ke Huy Quan, and James Hong also deliver perfect performances, playing alternative versions of themselves with unique flair. Stephanie Hsu is impressively transformative as the antagonist, Jobu. Her ability to switch back and forth from an invincible villain to Evelyn’s stressed-out teenage daughter Joy is uncanny. Although Joy hates her mother, you can tell that all she wants is to be accepted and loved unconditionally. Jobu’s fighting style is quite creative; in one scene she turns her opposition into Chiquita dancers who then explode into confetti. It’s wonderfully surreal. Hsu’s chemistry with Yeoh is excellent and obviously genuine. They could pass for mother and daughter off-screen as well as on.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is also filled with well-choreographed action scenes, from a character named Big Nose (Jenny Slate) using her dog as a chain whip, to Jamie Lee Curtis’ strength as a Sumo wrestler. The fight scenes are comparable to Kung Fu Hustle and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, both in terms of the skills on display and the pure enjoyment of watching them. The climatic battle between Evelyn and Jobu is reminiscent of Mr.Smith verses Neo in The Matrix, but even more bizarre and multiversal.

I applaud the Daniels and their editing team on the effects. When each actor performs a “verse jump” it feels as though they’re tapping into the alternate versions in order to snag new skill sets. When Evelyn has a mental break while verse jumping, the screen literally cracks like glass and, at one point, she moves through many universes with Joy/Jobu so fast you see many versions of them, from cartoons to piñatas. The alternate versions of the characters are wildly imaginative and must’ve been puzzling to read in the script. Each character’s story unfolds in a way that truly fits the film, no screen time wasted. The universe where people had hotdogs as fingers must’ve been one of the most entertaining and hilarious. And the physical intimacy scenes? Yes, they go there. The Daniels are so talented they can create a meaningful scene where the characters are rocks. Literally. No form of expression, just plain old rocks.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is definitely worth your time. The amount of editing and crafting it took to make this film is unimaginable, but I am sure this was a labor of love for the Daniels and everyone invovled. This is easily one of the most entertaining films I have seen so far this year and will most likely still be at the top of my 2022 list by the end of the year.

The takeaway:

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a collage of farce, action, sci-fi, and metaphysical drama that’s entertaining, yet not overdone. It explores relationships and family dynamics we’ve all come across. You’ll probably want to watch it again to discover all the Easter eggs and background connections. I know I do.

Watch it with:

Gather a bunch of your friends and family and be ready to laugh until you cry. If you love Kevin Smith’s Dogma or The Matrix or the Daniels’ Swiss Army Man, you will love this film.

Worth noting:

Everything Everywhere All At Once was inspired by Ikeda Manabu’s ink drawing “History of Rise and Fall.” The Daniels wanted to recreate the maximalist style in the form of a film and started development on it in 2016.

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