Published on April 8th, 2022 | by Craig Silliphant0
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Michelle Yeoh and Key He Quan star in Everything Everywhere All At Once; a wild film that will be among the top movies of 2022.
What the hell did I just see? Was that a comedy? An adventure movie? A sci-fi film? A drama? Like the title says, it was everything, everywhere — all at once. And somehow, by gum, it works.
Directed by Daniels (otherwise known as Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who also made the quirky Swiss Army Man), Everything Everwhere All At Once is a hilarious movie with a lot of heart, about a Chinese American woman who feels like she made all the wrong choices in life. Her husband wants a divorce, her daughter is growing ever distant — and she can’t seem to finish her taxes. Then she finds out she may be a key figure in the plot to destroy an infinite number of universes, including our own. It’s an original story, not based on anything; a champagne blockbuster made brilliantly on a beer budget.
Before we get to the movie itself, we have to slow things down and talk about the cast. They are simply amazing. The movie is big and noisy and stuffed with amazing ideas, but the cast anchor it in reality, in personality, and in emotion. Without them, there would be no stakes to the film.
Michelle Yeoh is simply stunning as Evelyn Wang, a woman discovering that both the multiverse, and then her family, exist. She is believable and sympathetic in both the dramatic and comedic parts of her role — and she also brings a level of physicality to the role that would be unmatched by almost anyone when she busts out her martial arts. Key He Quan (yes, Data from The Goonies and Short Round from Temple of Doom) plays her husband Waymond Wang and his humanity shines through. He also is a trained martial artist and has some really fun action scenes. Jamie Lee Curtis has the bravest role — taking her innate beauty and turning it inside out, playing an IRS agent that has been sitting at a desk too long. Again, she’s believable as the face of bureaucracy, but she also has some hilarious comic moments. Veteran actor James Wong is always a delight and Stephanie Hsu also excels in her role.
These people (and more) are our anchors to reality and suspension of disbelief and they populate a movie that is quite frankly, absolutely bonkers. I honestly don’t want to say too much about it because I think you should just see it. Don’t even watch the trailer. Just go.
What I can say is that it probably shares some DNA with Rick and Morty. It’s not cynical like that show — in fact, quite the opposite. It’s about finding your path in a universe where nothing you do matters (like the title of my new book; in fact, the movie shared some DNA with the ideas in my book as well). It’s about whether love is important or not in our tiny, nonessential existence.
In the hands of lesser directors, this movie could have been a bloody mess. There’s so much going on — so many ideas, so many kung fu kicks, so much philosophy, so many bizarre and hilarious universes. Somehow, the Daniels manage to pull it all together into something that is cohesive, something that pumps blood like a heart through a system, heck, something that makes sense. And incredibly, even with so much noise and action and fast cuts and strange and hilarious ideas — the movie still hits the bullseye emotionally. There are some beautiful moments and sentiments that frankly, put a lump in my throat.
I am still processing this movie. I can’t wait to see it again. And I know that even after seeing it 10 times, I’ll still be picking up details. But it gives me hope for the movies. I’ve said it many times; I like Marvel and other franchise movies, but they’re killing the movie industry. Eating it whole like a monster that swallows universes. While this isn’t exactly a low key Richard Linkletter or Paul Thomas Anderson movie, it certainly signals the idea that the movies can still have original and awesome ideas.
They can tell stories with big concepts but also with diverse casts and notions that don’t come from the Western world. Globalization can mean a lot of bad things, but it can also bring interesting cultures and stories from other parts of the world to a global audience, which is what Daniels have done here.
The movie is truly well-named. It’s everything, everywhere, all at once. And I’m here for it.