"Part sci-fi, part comedy, part family drama, part martial arts film, all bizarre and immensely entertaining, Everything Everywhere All At Once slaps with chaotic brilliance and over-the-top insanity."
Rated: R (violence, sexual content, crude humor/language, mature themes)
Directed by: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis
On demand streaming or redbox rental.
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is living the most boring version of herself as the owner of a laundromat, wife of aloof though good-meaning husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), daughter of disapproving father (James Hong), and mother of moody daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Most of her day is filled with organizing dirty laundry, dealing with annoying customers, cooking meals, filing piles of receipts for taxes, and balancing the many divergent personalities of her family members; in other words, her many talents and aspirations are dashed in place of bland, monotonous normalcy. This all changes, however, during an audit review of her business with IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jaime Lee Curtis) when her husband suddenly takes on another personality, claiming to be a man from a different universe, and tells her she is in grave danger and must travel the multi-verse to defeat a great force of evil killing her other selves and threatening to detroy existence as they know it. Evelyn then descends the rabbit hole into an Alice-In-Wonderland-esque chaos of merging worlds and identities as she unearths the mystery of this so called "multi-verse" and confronts her inner-struggle with destiny.
Part sci-fi, part comedy, part family drama, part martial arts film, all bizarre and immensely entertaining, Everything Everywhere All At Once slaps with chaotic brilliance and over-the-top insanity. For viewers familiar with Jet Li's The One (2001), Everything Everywhere loses much of its conceptual originality. It is essentially a retelling of Li's film with more extravagance in special effects, precision in acting, flashy purposeful editing, meaningfully engaging writing, and nuanced directing. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert manage to stuff this film so full of randomness and competing storylines while still maintaining a sense of narrative clarity. The acting is superb, especially Michelle Yeoh's emotional depth and range, somewhat remnicient to Denis Lavant's many roles in Leos Carax's Holy Motors (2012). The heart of the film is Ke Huy Quan, however, in his ability to blend aloof friendliness at one moment with ferocious intensity in the next. The editing is also impressive and encourages a healthy pace and narrative congruency through the chaos of the cinematography and script. Sometimes the film's over-the-top visual style and imbalanced juxtaposition of conflicting tones can be too excessive for many viewers. I am especially critical of the overly silly and melodramatic "raccacoulle" subplot and questionable use of "toys" in certain fight scenes, which throw a slapstick, even eye-rolling level of comedy in otherwise intense emotional moments. The humor is otherwise laugh-out-loud brilliant and well-placed making for a wild ride through the complicated worlds of the film. Everything Everywhere is hilarious, emotionally touching, intellectually stimulating, and continuously engaging. It is an especially fitting film for this time where attention spans wane so much so that a single life's narrative becomes insufficient to satisfy the attention of Internet-minded viewers.