As easy as it might be to say, Everything Everywhere All At Once really does have something for everyone.
Published on April 7, 2022
Rating 5 /5
Everything Everywhere All At Once is that type of movie that just makes you feel great to be alive. It’s contemplative yet fast-paced, meaningful yet silly, and emotional yet absurd. This is that film that throws a whole bunch of wild stuff at the screen and it’s a towering feat to watch it all connect so well. The title couldn’t be any more fitting for feeling like an all-encompassing picture about omnipresence and the meaning of life.
The film centers around the life of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a struggling laundromat owner. Everything in her life is crumbling. The relationship with her gay daughter Joy (Ke Huy Quan) has strained to a boiling point. Her meek husband Waymond (Stephanie Hsu) is trying to cautiously push for a divorce. Her cantankerous father (James Hong) doesn’t make life any easier with his discriminating past. And the cherry on top of this terrible sundae is a bitter accountant (Jamie Lee Curtis) who can only see a dark future for Evelyn’s tax situation.
Evelyn finds herself daydreaming about something more in her life. Enter the multiverse, where another version of Waymond makes contact with her to state that she’s the key to saving all of existence. There’s an evil presence that’s threatening to destroy the entire multiverse and it’s believed that a version of Evelyn is the key to stopping it. If it seems unlikely that a laundromat owner would be the key to humanity’s existence, that’s what multiverse Waymond is counting on. He outright states that this is the worst version of Evelyn across many lives and that this makes her a perfect candidate. Who would suspect such a woman would be a master of kung-fu and a great force of love that can beat back on nihilism?
The unexpected nature courses throughout this picture, constantly keeping the audience on their toes. It helps that the villain she’s fighting is one that can manipulate all of reality. Evelyn is able to fight back against this seemingly unstoppable force by tapping into different universes and pulling new abilities, such as martial arts and skillful cooking. It’s a testament to how much Michelle Yeoh can perform a variety of fight scenes with varying styles. In order to get these abilities, however, she’s required to perform something unexpected. Sometimes it’s hurting herself and sometimes it’s confessing her love to a stranger. She gets these specific instructions but loses them and has to take wild guesses on random actions that may grant her more skills to survive.
Though much of the staging is laugh-out-loud funny, including a sequence where our villain uses sexual devices as weapons, there’s still something deeply profound. The villain seeking to destroy the multiverse is someone who feels desperate and unwanted with an existence where they just want to die. And if they can’t die, maybe throwing all of existence into a void of nothingness will grant some peace or at least make the entire world feel the same pain. And she does all this with a bagel. Silly, sure, but also a challenge for Evelyn to prove that life is worth living, even with the terrible one she has.
It’d take too long to go over all the brilliant little touches to this picture. The fight choreography is fast and exciting, getting quite ridiculous with the weaponry, where everything from fanny packs to dogs turns into weapons. The dimension-hopping madness leads to strange places of cartoons, pinatas, talking animals, and non-talking rocks. The acting is on point with everyone from Yeoh to Hong pulling off immensely dense performances where a lot is asked of them. The fact that Hong is in his 90s and hasn’t lost his touch for straight-faced comedy and elderly scolding is a testament to his amazing ability.
As easy as it might be to say, Everything Everywhere All At Once really does have something for everyone. It has plenty of bizarre fights for the martial arts crowd and juicy philosophical dialogue for those who want a meatier narrative out of their sci-fi action movies. It’s wild and off-the-wall but still finds an emotional core that breathes with great life and contentment. This is easily one of the best films of 2022 and it’ll be incredibly hard to top such an experience that is sure to garner much discussion and rewatching.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.