“You think because I’m kind that it means I’m naïve, and maybe I am. It’s strategic and necessary. This is how I fight.”
Life is seldom ever as exciting as we imagine it can be. The mundane tasks of taxes, or any financial burdens, often weigh heavy on our shoulders—preventing us from truly enjoying the little things in life. More importantly, enjoying the company of our loved ones. In their new film, Everything Everywhere All At Once, in their usual wacky storytelling ways, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, or The Daniels as they’re also known as, transport us to into a vibrant, visionary tale where the lackluster tasks in life are more than a little eccentric.
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) sits at her dining table enveloped in receipts as she prepares for a meeting with an IRS auditor. From the moment we are introduced to the matriarch of the Wang family, we can tell that her life is a bit chaotic as she juggles the financials, the household, and the running of the laundromat, which they live over. Oh, and on top of that, she’s preparing for tonight’s Chinese New Year’s party for all the customers. During the chaos, Evelyn’s daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) approaches her and says that she wants to bring her new girlfriend, Becky (Tallie Medel). However, Joy has questions as to whether Evelyn has truly excepted her homosexuality.
If the stress of the audit couldn’t consume Evelyn’s thoughts enough, upon arriving at the IRS building, a man from a place called the Alpha Verse, occupies her husband Waymond’s (Ke Huy Quan) body. He tells her there is a great threat that could bring death to all the universes. This supreme evil being is known as: Jobu Tupaki. Through the power of verse jumping, Evelyn can help bring balance to ALL the universes.
What more can I say about Michelle Yeoh’s performance other than I have come away from Everything Everywhere All At Once with a new found respect and appreciation for her. She is the glue that holds this film together. Not only because she’s the main character—that’s a given. No, it’s because Yeoh gives 110% to Evelyn with every scene whether she’s fighting or just performing something more on the dramatic side. But as much as I go on and on about Yeoh being the anchor of the film, it would have been nothing without the supporting cast. From Jamie Lee Curtis, who is funny as hell as the IRS auditor, to Stephanie Hsu or Key Huy Quan, they’re perfect in their roles. Each performance drives the film forward with laughter, drama, and tears.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is a technical achievement of massive proportions, among other things. The film is extremely faced-paced, mostly due to The Daniels’ quick script. The Daniels, who started initially making music videos for DJ Snake and Lil John, Tenacious D, and Foster the People, infused a whole perspective into filmmaking. And through those projects, brought some people along for this ride. Paul Rogers who worked with them on the ”Turn Down for What” music video, has a skill for precise editing. His editing was spot on as nothing was jarring or out of place. It was smooth, especially for the plethora of excitement that happens in the film. The fights scenes, choreographed by Andy and Brian Le, have an almost melodic feel to the overall action. I’ve always thought of fight scenes, if done right, as almost like a dance, and that is how it’s done here.
Let me preface my overall thoughts about Everything Everywhere All At Once with this, I don’t usually cry at movies. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately, and then proceed to say that I cried. However, I believe that movies often make me feel something, but don’t produce tears. Everything Everywhere All At Once made me cry in such a way that I have never cried at a movie—ever. I left the theater and I was in the car still wiping tears from my face. As I write this now, I’m getting a bit emotional. I don’t write this to deter you from seeing it, nor do I want you to think this is a sob fest. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Everything Everywhere All At Once will make you laugh out loud, cheer with excitement, and of course, make you a bit emotional. I can’t remember the last time I was taken on such a spectrum of emotions during a film. I don’t dish out A pluses very often. In fact, I didn’t give one out at all last year. However, Everything Everywhere All At Once is EVERYTHING you want from a cinema experience. It’s why we love movies.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Written and Directed by: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Key Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Tallie Medel, James Hong, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., and Jamie Lee Curtis