"Everything Everywhere All at Once" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Taxes, work, and death are the very few things that are inevitable in life. Those things are hard to accept for anyone, especially for our characters in Daniel Kwan's and Daniel Scheinert's film, "Everything Everywhere All at Once", who not only have to deal with the inevitable, but also figure out how to find joy in life in America as Asian immigrants. The writers and directors, who are known as The Daniels, present a beautifully heartfelt and wild film that is not only meant to entertain viewers with their comedic storylines and huge action sequences, but make them feel joy in what their current situation is in life.
The film opens up on Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and her husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan), who own and operate a laundromat ever since they moved to America against her father's wishes. They live in a small apartment that is connected to their business, and their house is now littered with paperwork and receipts that they will need for their tax appointment they have later that day. However, they also must deal with annoying customers, their rebellious daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and the fact that Evelyn's father, Gong Gong (James Hong) has come to visit them during this very stressful time.
That's why it is not shocking Evelyn is extremely unhappy with her life. She wishes she could change everything about her life, and go back and pursue a career as an actress or stay with her family instead of moving to America with Waymond. This is all represented by the first twenty minutes of the movie, which is absolutely amazing. The Daniels were able to combine all of this mayhem together to show the daily lives of this family and everything they have to go through. Whether it's a Dog mom complaining about how slow the laundromat is to her daughter trying to introduce her girlfriend to her grandfather, there is always something problematic going on, which pushes Evelyn closer and closer to the bring of insanity.
She thinks she does go insane when they get to the IRS, when Waymond suddenly transforms into a completely different person and starts talking about different universes. He places a headset on her and gives her a set of instructions to follow to help save all of the universes. Tempted to see what this is going to be, Evelyn follows the instructions and views all the moments that led up to this specific moment of her life.
From there, she is rocketed into a whole multi-dimensional battle, trying to stop the evil forces of Jobu Tupaki, an evil presence that can go through all the different dimensions, hoping to destroy everything and everyone with something called "The Everything Bagel". It is up to Evelyn to travel to these different universes to explore different versions of herself and her life to be able to destroy Jobu and save the entire multiverse for good.
This film is as crazy as it sounds, but it works perfectly in every aspect. Unlike the Marvel Multiverse, which brings in different versions of our superheroes to team up, this provides the question of "What would my life have been like if I did (blank)?" It lets our character see all of the different ways she could have ended up, with some being way better than others. Because of that, it brings up the themes of nihilism and being appreciative of what you have in your life. Evelyn, throughout the movie, wishes her life was different and would do everything to change that. But, when she starts going to these other universes, it lets her see what is really special to her in her own life.
Yeoh and Quan gives absolutely brilliant performances, and they have fantastic chemistry with each other throughout the entirety of the movie. In a way, they really serve as foils of each other, with Evelyn being a huge downer and Quan having the same quirky and fun personality you could see in his earlier films, like "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "The Goonies".
Hsu also is fantastic as their daughter, just trying to find peace and happiness in America with her immigrant parents that have certain views and beliefs that don't line up with hers. Hsu plays a very important role in this film, which will definitely relate to many viewers throughout this movie. I think her character is perhaps one of the best designed characters in this film, and Hsu is just great at portraying all of these different personalities for such a young actress. I should also mention that Jamie Lee Curtis gives a hilarious and outrageous performance in this movie, one we have never really seen her play before.
The special effects are absolutely amazing, and they really immerse the viewer into the movie. From the epic fight sequences to the way they are able to trick the viewers with the special effects, it is obvious the filmmakers really took care in what they are creating. But, it would have been lost without the absolutely amazing screenplay from The Daniels, which is perhaps the best screenplay this year. They are able to incorporate so many different themes and elements into the film that can relate to anyone, no matter what race or gender they are, how they sexually identify are, if their parents are still alive or not. This movie has something for everyone, and it can easily move any viewer to tears towards the end of the picture.
I truly think this movie has a very good chance of nabbing many Oscar nominations, as well as a few wins. This is one of the best films of this year, and it is perfectly showcasing what The Daniels are capable of as filmmakers. I'm very excited to see what they will be making next, and I pray it is as good as this movie.