“Everything Everywhere All at Once” combines the emotional core of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with the vibrant style of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and then injects it all with acid.
Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert tell the tale of a Chinese immigrant, Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), who is pulled from her “pathetic” life into a multiverse-spanning adventure. The stakes are apocalyptic yet personal as Evelyn’s family crumbles around her as they are confronted with what life could have been and their insignificance in an infinite universe.
First off, this movie is probably not for everyone. It’s weird, wacky, bananas and every other adjective, but I loved it. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I’m still baffled it was pulled off with such a small budget and team. The slew of big-budget multiverse pictures coming soon have a high bar to live up to.
The whole cast is phenomenal and clearly has a blast playing different versions of themselves from across the multiverse. Ke Huy Quan (who played Short Round in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”) triumphantly returns after a long break from acting and gives a career-changing performance. Jaime Lee Curtis steals every scene she’s in as an IRS agent. However, it’s Michelle Yeoh’s film, and she proves once again that she’s an absolute star.
“Everything Everywhere” also features some of the most fun action in years. It’s filmed and choreographed masterfully, and every sequence feels fresh and creative. The way the multiverse is woven into these scenes is brilliant. In my favorite sequence, Evelyn has to jump from universe to universe acquiring new skills in each one in order to best her foes.
The film has an unabashed commitment to milking every ounce of insanity and comedy out of the premise. Admittedly, the movie may occasionally take it too far, yet I consistently found myself laughing out loud. The physical gags are ingenious. Fanny packs, ChapStick and “Auditor of the Year” statues are all fused into the action for incredulous hilarity.
Yet, somehow, despite the “Ratatouille” jokes and the universe where we have hotdog fingers, the film retains its emotional core throughout. Evelyn’s personal struggles bring a relatability to the film and ground the multiverse mayhem in reality.
Evelyn battles depression as she glimpses other lives in the multiverse. In one, she’s a singer. In another, she’s a martial arts master and an actress. With all these possibilities, how could she have settled for such a seemingly meek man and an insignificant life? In a vast, infinite multiverse, do we even matter anyway?
These questions drive Evelyn and her daughter to the edge of an abyss but ultimately reveal a deeper message brimming with optimism and hope, overflowing with a genuine love and appreciation for life.
Whatever path you choose, there will always be both good and bad. Make the most of what you have and try not to worry about what you don’t or what could have been. Appreciate the little things and the rare moments of peace and clarity. Cherish the people around you, your family, your friends. Be kind to others amidst the chaos (especially your cranky IRS auditor).
Films like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are the ones I love the most. Films like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Ikiru” and “About Time” make you step back and examine your own life and appreciate it more.
I had a blast with the wacky sci-fi premise, the kung-fu action and the laugh-out-loud comedy, but in the end, the film had me thinking long into the night about the many choices I face and the underappreciated loved ones around me.