Everything Everywhere All At Once; 2022; Written/Directed by The Daniels. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong. 2h12m; Rated R; Theatrically released in limited release April 1st; wider April 8th. Distributed by A24.
One-sentence synopsis: Beaten down Evelyn thinks she’s in enough trouble with a failing marriage, broken relationships with her daughter and dad, and an IRS audit; little does she know she’s about to have to fight for the multiverse.
Even shorter take – The Matrix meets The One via [Adult Swim].
If you told me what is currently far and away my favorite movie of 2022 would feature an infinite number of Fright-Wigged Jamie Lee Curtis attempting to kill an infinite number of Michelle Yeohs, I might never believe you. But my god it does, and sweet Bowie Everything Everywhere All At Once is such an insane trip through a multiverse of madness (heh) it is just a sliver of the weird to follow.
This. Movie. Is. Weird. And it has a big heart. But it’s -fuckin- weird. Everything Everywhere All At Once is a complex, creative, absolutely hilarious, multi-layered masterpiece.
Early on, there is an incredibly impressive fight sequence focused on a slew of brand-new uses for a fanny pack. This is the very least of multitudes of how strange Everything Everywhere All at Once gets. To tell you, dear reader, the insane heights of oddity the film reaches would be a disservice to you and the filmmakers. For both keeping it close to the chest for your own EXPERIENCE, and I can’t possibly explain it without sounding like a lunatic, I won’t give away the further wild heights. But just as you think “okay this is it. This is the apex of the bizarre.” It gets topped. And topped again. AND AGAIN. Pure, unbridled chaos of creativity and crazy.
Writer-Directors The Daniels previously made the delightfully odd Swiss Army Man, a movie that left many scratched heads over how did it get made for many; and left huge “That was Something Special Grins” for the rest. Swiss Army Man has nothing on Everything Everywhere All At Once. If you had that Grin for SWA, your jaw will drop at EEAAO.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is incredibly special. Driving home and for hours after I just had that Wowing Glow of something that resonated. It’s a movie you can’t imagine anyone even attempting to write, let alone get backing. It’s a miracle it got made at all, and I thank the Russo Brothers for producing this and the film gods at A24 for distrubuting. It’s a triple miracle that it came out as perfect as it did.
It throws all the spaghetti and whatever pasta is tossed in other universes against the wall in the wild concept and all of it sticks. It is incredibly random, but far from the middle school “I’m so random!” but in a weird way that makes sense despite how utterly strange.
It works because under it all, beneath the raccoons, rocks, knitting, bagels, hot dogs, infinite Jamie Lee Curtises (Curti?), Flamenco dancers, baby rattles, flying Pomeranians, living video game consoles, sex panic rooms, and so much more (BTW, some of that list is not in the movie; to keep you on your toes to what to expect), it has a the strong, beating, every-changing heart. A heart of an incredibly meaningful family drama. Of generational trauma, expectations, losses, disconnections, and evaluating the life you have and the infinite lives you might have had from the choices you made.
It’s touching. Really. At least a few of the Bobs across the multiverse had tears in their eyes. I know this one did.
If it was just weird for weird’s sake it would be empty. But it has power.
The heart is given life by an amazing stable of fully game actors. With the core and supporting actors playing possibly up to HUNDREDS of versions of themselves, there is no weak link. One must be absolutely game, and they are intensely committed. Jamie Lee Curtis in particular looks like she’s having the time of her life – you can see the fire in her eyes. But she’s not the lead. That is Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, the dispirited laundry owner who (on the main versions we follow most) is at the lowest point; where nothing has gone right until she’s forced to confront everything (and gain new skills in the process via a method I cannot explain quickly). This is her show. After so much time as secondary characters, this may be her first direct lead spotlight. Finally. She’s earned it across her great career and it culminates in a truly amazing powerful performance.
But I have to heap praise on Ke Huy Quan. His Waymond is the soul of the mentioned heart. Quan has been absent from cinema after iconic roles of Short Round (Temple of Doom) and Data (The Goonies), having left after only being offered stereotypical, nerdy guys. But what a welcome return. He grounds the movie is sweet pathos across the multiverse, nearly endearingly stealing the movie away from Yeoh, Curtis, and the always a treat James Hong (dude is 90 and still bringing spirited performances). Stephanie Hsu is new to the scene (she’s on Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but I’ve not seen that), relatively, compared to her costars but a star-making performance as Joy, daughter to Yeoh and Quan. All play to the hilt, mixing in with incredible chemistry.
Now reaching the end of this write-up, you may notice “he hasn’t said anything negative.” It’s true. I have absolutely nothing bad to say. I wouldn’t change a frame of this beautiful monstrosity. It’s perfection. The Daniels set out to deliver an incredibly wild ride, a massive undertaking of oddity. They delivered with a heartful, complex picture that is unlike nothing before.