The internet has touted Everything Everywhere All At Once as “every” movie, and it certainly packs a lot into its runtime! This action-packed sci-fi by the “Daniels” — directing duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert of farty Swiss Army Man fame — stars the phenomenal Michelle Yeoh as a struggling laundromat owner named Evelyn Wang, who is in the midst of battling the IRS and failing to bridge generational differences between her daughter while also being thrown into a cosmic war that requires her to marshall the abilities of her multiple selves in parallel universes to defeat a powerful and all-consuming entity. The film also stars Ke Huy Quan (best known as the winsome young sidekick Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) as Evelyn’s sweet-natured husband Waymond, Stephanie Hsu as Evelyn’s daughter Joy, James Hong as Evelyn’s father, and Jamie Lee Curtis as an embittered IRS employee.
Mashing up an immigrant family tale with multiverse fantasy elements, Everything is completely fresh and unexpected, letting the actors and visual effects team wow the audience with serious talent and ingenuity. As the overwhelmed protagonist who discovers more and more powers and planes as the story progresses, Yeoh gets to showcase her incredible talents as an actress, martial artist, and more. And she does so beautifully, handling the wacky situational comedy and emotional turns with conviction. But Quan and Hsu are also remarkable in their supporting roles as opposing foils to Yeoh’s Evelyn. Waymond is gentle and loving in a vastly important but underrated way, yet as alternate universe versions of himself, he can also be surprisingly determined and suave. Joy (and, spoilers, Jobu Tupaki, the film’s big baddie) is more than a typical young rebel — really more of a showstopping, glittery, disaffected badass who serves as both a physical and emotional challenge to Evelyn.
The visuals and stunt work are zany and dizzyingly inventive, pulling references from all sorts of genres and styles like Jackie Chan choreography, Pixar brilliance, traditional wuxia, Edgar Wright comedies, and so much more into a candy-coloured, surrealist world that just works (butt plugs and all). The filmmakers do an astounding amount with a limited budget and a tight VFX crew of five (!) The early Oscar hype is real: for acting, directing, and visuals, at the very least.
Ratings (out of 5):
Overall Average: 4.5