Film fans who complain about the proliferation of sequels and Superhero films…rejoice! There are some unique movies playing in our cinemas. There’s Nicholas Cage as a version of his most egotistical self in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”. Alexander Skarsgård is a half-naked Nordic warrior battling his way through “The Northsman”. And oddly, there are three films that feature the concept of a Multiverse. “The Matrix Resurrections” revisits what was likely most people’s introduction to that concept. Benedict Cumberbatch stars in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness“. To get away from sequels and the Marvel Universe, slip into a different universe in “Everything Everywhere All At Once“.
A joyful hallucination combining martial arts, screwball comedy and intimate family drama with “The Matrix”, “Everything” has a lot going on. Originally set to showcase the talented Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh shines as the forlorn laundromat owner. Her character, Evelyn Wang is just trying to get through her IRS audit, but her husband Waymond is attemting to serve her divorce papers, her daughter Joy wants an acknowledgement of her lesbian partner, and her judgmental father is coming to visit.
Writer/Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels, are known for their surreal film, “Swiss Army Man” starring Daniel Radcliffe. His role as a flatulent corpse was a definite departure from Radcliffe’s Harry Potter universe, letting the world know that he could handle comedy (See “The Lost Island”). In “Everything”, Daniels rein in their more sophmoric humor though there are still many butt plug refereneces.
Where Daniels make their mark is in their casting. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” re-introduces us to Ke Huy Quan. Quan was in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Goonies” and had been working behind the scenes as a fight choreographer. As Waymond, he’s tasked with bringing warmth to his befuddled, put-upon husband while transforming into an alternate version Waymond who’s got some zany combat skills to teach Evelyn. The scene where he battles security guards using his fanny pack is hilarious.
Michelle Yeoh is marvelous in her kaleidoscope of roles: a version of herself as a famous Actress/Singer in China, a martial artist trainee, a sign-spinner in urban America, a hibachi chef, and the present-day stressed-out Evelyn. Her character must learn to channel the talents of ALL the versions of herself across the multiverse to try to save the Universe. In doing so, she discovers that her daughter’s unhappiness has got her channeling despair into a world-swallowing black hole. Stephanie Hsu (“The Marvelous Miss Maisel”) sports fabulous costumes to transform from indecisive dutiful daughter to vengeful villian.
Outlandish costumes also transform our IRS auditor. Jamie Lee Curtis is almost unrecognizable as the frumpy frustrated IRS agent, her villianous counterpart and her hilarious alternate self–the hot-dog-finger partner of Evelyn. The shenanigans and battles are played with humor and extreme creativity. This low-budget film used a small special effects team to achieve what an entire special effects company is usually tasked with. That feeling of DIY mentality comes across in the freshness of set pieces. A scene that’s particularly moving is just two rocks perched on a moutain, no sound, communication shown in supertitles. Simple–yet, it’s the key to understanding the emotional interplay between mother and daughter.
A unique story, creative casting, and a sense of playfulness that comes through in the performances and finished film, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a lot of fun. What makes this film special–all of this creativity is in service of a story about the importance of family. It’s a story of love and acceptance. A heartwarming tale disguised as a surreal martial arts fantasy that the whole family can enjoy…whatever multiverse you call home.
Drinks With Films Rating:
3 ½ bubble teas from another dimension (out of 5)
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