Everything Everywhere All at Once
Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jenny Slate
Rarely do films come along that break all molds, creating something entirely new for audiences to enjoy and cinephiles to dissect. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is that film for 2022.
You could categorize Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s latest invention as avant-garde, but when has that categorization ever been this fun? The “Daniels,” as the two directors are called when collaborating, hinted at their off-the-wall brilliance in “Swiss Army Man,” where Daniel Radcliffe played a farting corpse. Now they take that imagination to a new level, reintroducing Michelle Yeoh to a new generation.
Aside from sheer originality, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” showcases editing on a complex level, rivaling any superhero film. The costume design is visionary and varied because of the random nature of the plot. Yet the multidimensional story is comprehensively grounded in emotion with stellar performances from Yeoh, a career highlight for Jamie Lee Curtis, and a star-making turn by Ke Huy Quan.
On Earth, Evelyn Wang’s (Yeoh) decisions have given her a family, laundromat business, lots of bills and a stressful day-to-day life. She and her husband Waymond (Quan) couldn’t be more different in their outlooks on life. He places googly eye stickers on everything, while she shuffles one problematic mess for another. Their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is anything but joyful, with a mother who doesn’t respect her life choices. Disapproval is generational in Evelyn’s family, as her father (James Hong) emotes his disappoint of her decision to marry and move to America. A recent IRS audit with the persnickety Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis) turns Evelyn and her family upside down while the universe simultaneously throws her a curve ball, revealing infinite possibilities.
Aside from sheer originality, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” showcases editing on a complex level, rivaling any superhero film.
Imagine the family from A24’s “The Farewell” caught up in one of the Wachowski sisters’ films like “Cloud Atlas.” That’s only a hint of what to prepare for. One minute you have a butt plug fight scene, another a heart-tugging moment about parental acceptance, and the surprises just keep coming with every pivot to another layer of bonkers creativity.
The fact that the Daniels tie everything together so well is a real testament to their work on this original screenplay. All the layers within the story are full of symbolism that likely won’t be fully appreciated until repeat viewings. While the non-traditional and experimental narratives might turn off closed-minded audiences, “Everything” succeeds where many of these “out-there” movies fail, by coalescing around the idea of acceptance.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is “Parasite” level inventive, but arguably more fun and satisfying. For those more interested in fight scenes, it’s simply worth the ticket price to watch Curtis and Yeoh battle things out in a variety of different circumstances.
Even with the stylized violence, one of the take-aways is that of kindness. “Be kind, especially when you don’t know what’s going on,” one character offers. “Everything” is that rare intersection of creativity and imagination on every level, while concurrently keeping the audience entertained. The two most impressive films of 2022 so far, “The Batman” and “Everything” couldn’t be more opposite in aesthetic as one is about darkness and the other colorful light.
“Everything” is spectacularly creative, “Everywhere” you look, happening “All at Once,” begging to be revisited again and again.