EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (hereafter simply referred to as “EVERYTHING”) is directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. It stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Evelyn, a Chinese-American woman, runs a laundromat with her husband and daughter, and has a rough relationship with her aging father. The relationships she has with her daughter and her husband are both strained, and she’s even more stressed facing an IRS audit for their business. She is then whisked to other universes by an alternate version of her husband, who explains she may be the last hope to save the world from a growing evil. What is the origin of this evil, and what connection does it have to Evelyn’s life?
The title of this movie is surprisingly appropriate. EVERYTHING is a chaotic, jumbled mess of a movie, but it’s a beautiful chaotic mess. The movie reaches in too many different directions across literal universes of untold decisions and possibilities, and it can shift quickly towards a laugh riot and something dramatic and touching. After watching this movie, I had no idea what the hell I had just watched.
And yet, I found myself wanting to watch it again as soon as it was over. Many of the best films to come out in recent years have come from A24, and this is another strong entry in their growing catalogue of work. At 140 minutes, it’s about half an hour too long, but I was impressed with the scope covered in this story. It’s bound to be a head scratcher with audiences, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Where this movie shines brightest is with its stars. Michelle Yeoh gives one of the best performances of her career as the disenfranchised middle-aged Evelyn, who sees her life falling apart before her eyes, only to find herself thrown into the chaos that could destroy the world if left unchecked. Everyone in this movie gives a great performance, including an adult Ke Huy Qyan, who audiences likely remember from his days as a child actor in films like THE GOONIES and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. And who could forget James Hong, who even into his 90s, is still acting and entertaining audiences as only he could?
The setpieces and places traveled in this movie, not to mention the ludicrous ways of getting there, speak for themselves and help the movie to stand on its own. The film is the unholy love child of CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, THE MATRIX, and PARASITE, but I do mean that in the best of ways. Will you be confused, puzzled, and laughing alike as you watch EVERYTHING? You will indeed. There’s never quite been a motion picture like this one.
How everything ties together is surprisingly strong, and despite the outright comedic content the movie throws toward its audience, there are some surprisingly touching themes and concepts the film takes on. If there’s one true weakness it’s the overlong running time, which could’ve been cut by about half an hour. While many emotions flooded my head while watching this movie, boredom certainly wasn’t one of them.
I should warn viewers that a good portion of the dialogue in the movie is spoken in foreign languages and subtitled in English. I have no problem with this; I think it’s great for authenticity and adds something to the cultural aspect of the film. But those movie watchers who absolute hate reading subtitles should consider themselves warned.
This movie lives up to its title. It’s not going to be for everyone, and it’s certainly one of the weirdest most eccentric things I’ve ever seen on the big screen. I’m also delighted to report it’s surprisingly ambitious and accomplishes most of its goals. It’s got to be seen to be believed. Recommended, but be warned – you’re in for one chaotic ride of a movie!