The movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was released this year on March 11. It was written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert who are both known for their mind-bogglingly eccentric shorts and music videos.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” features an Asian-American family, the Wangs, who are preparing to be audited by the IRS at the same time as their Chinese New Year’s party. Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is the timid mom of Joy (Stephanie Hsu), the ever-defiant teenager. Joy’s girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel) is trying to get accepted by Evelyn and Joy’s grandpa Gong Gong (James Hong). Evelyn’s husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is the sort of silly peace-keeper of the Wang family. He lightens the mood around the laundromat with little googly eyes, dancing music, and jokes.
The movie starts with a scene in the Wang’s cramped apartment, which is attached to the laundromat they operate. Evelyn has stacks of receipts and papers on her dining table while preparing for her tax auditing appointment with Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis.)
Soon after arriving at this appointment, weird stuff begins happening. Evelyn learns that her universe and the other universes are in danger of being destroyed by the villainous Jobu Tupaki, and this Earth’s Evelyn is the only one who can save it. Along with the help of other Earth’s Waymond, she learns how to “verse jump,” which is where someone has to do something so incredibly bizarre that they’re able to jump into another universe’s version of them.
This brings many scenes where, in order to get another universe’s skills and knowledge, characters have to do things like eat an entire stick of chapstick, papercut between every finger, and even jump, ass down, on a trophy.
Jobu Tupaki’s goal, at least to the knowledge of other Earth’s Waymond, is to find and kill this Earth’s Evelyn because she’s the only one who can stop her plans. However, we learn later that Evelyn is the reason for her hatred and motivation for destroying the multiverse.
“Everything Everywhere” has a lot of goofy and unusual imagery like a fighting scene where swords turn into dildos, two grown men fighting with statues in their butts, and a universe where, instead of hands, everybody has hotdog fingers! The movie does, however, bring up many more mundane and meaningful storylines.
The whole movie gives off a coming-of-age feel as Evelyn discovers that she doesn’t need any purpose. After verse-jumping into all different types and versions of herself – one a kung-fu fighting movie star, another a talented chef, and even one where she had hotdog hands and was in a romantic relationship with her tax auditor, Deirdre – Evelyn learned that she doesn’t have to be extraordinary to have everything she wants. She also learns to come to terms with her daughter’s identity and instead of further growing apart, she and Joy come closer together.
Before the final fight, Waymond from this Earth’s universe reminds her that the reason the other Waymond chose her is because “You’re capable of everything because you’re bad at everything!” This motivates her to win the fight by being kind. She uses her newfound power to see what her opponents want most in the world and gives it to them. The battle ends with her and Joy at the edge of the black hole “Everything Bagel” which was Jobu Tupaki’s creation to suck everything in existence away into oblivion. Evelyn comes to the realization that in order to get her daughter back, she needs to let go of her image of Joy. They let each other go and the scene moves to their original universe where the Wangs still own a laundromat. The scene is tear-jerking and moving in every way, and gives a peek into what a real mother-daughter relationship may be like for some. Back to the scene in the IRS office where the battle was, the completely-engulfed Joy comes back to reality with the help of Evelyn, Gong Gong, Waymond, and everyone else involved in the fight.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” appears at first glance as an ostentatious film, with shocking scenes, and well-placed profanity, but giving it a closer look, it is really a story about how sometimes parents aren’t always right and even when you think you’re “too old” or already established as one thing, you always have choices. Life isn’t linear and this movie highlights all of the faults and eccentricities of being a person.
DIRECTED BY: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Sheinert (The Daniels)
STARRING: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hong.