A Daniels knockout that loves 1999 films and the multiverse.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is obviously inspired by a number of movies, most of them from 1999 like “Fight Club,” “The Matrix,” and “Magnolia,” and yet directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (better known as Daniels) admit it, and they both have a fun time taking various genres to new heights. In fact, they take them throughout the multiverse, controlled by alternate versions of the main characters with the lead learning how to adapt to those worlds. Michelle Yeoh is that lead, and she’s able to thrive on the wacky sense of humor, the wall-to-wall effects, and the convoluted multiverse dialogue and gimmicks that the geniuses behind “Rick & Morty” would engage themselves in.
Yeoh is Evelyn Wang, who is struggling to run the local laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan from “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”) and lesbian daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). They have an audit and divorce on the way, but they’re just hiccups compared to what Evelyn is about to deal with.
The premise is nearly impossible to explain (even the filmmakers admitted it was), but they’re technically being controlled by alternate versions of themselves from other universes. The alternate Waymond has to explain to Evelyn the game, which requires stupid behaviors to turn themselves into fighting machines-ABC gum, trophies where the sun don’t shine, and dancing, etc. And it’s not just her husband, but also her daughter and disapproving father (James Hong) are either heroes or villains. They tend to switch around.
And like the “The Wizard of Oz” with Miss Gulch being depicted as The Wicked Witch of the West, Jamie Lee Curtis comes in as a disgruntled IRS inspector, whose alternate version is trying to keep the dastardly plans in tack.
Long story short: Evelyn has to travel to parallel worlds fighting her alternate loved ones to save her world and loved ones. And the title speaks for itself. More ways than you know.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, made by Daniels, who both gave themselves indie names with “Swiss Army Man.” That was a good and strange film; this one is stranger and even better. Most movie-goers have been racing to the theaters to see “The Batman,” but when I saw this at an NYC showing, I found a young audience (around my age) in the crowd, and it’s proof that even youngsters these days have good taste in entertainment. “The Batman” was entertaining; “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is really something to look forward to when it expands to your theater.
The jokes are lively and original, with Daniels taking something so simple, and transcending them into something fresh. I can’t give the jokes away or any of the twists and turns and confusion, but I can tell you: it takes over two hours just to make sure we’re inside the multiverse, trying to figure out how all worlds can be saved.
Yeoh plays the lead with attitude and flexibility, almost like if Jessica Rothe from “Happy Death Day 2U” met Yeoh from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Quan gives the funniest performance in the film when he flips back and forth from the mild-mannered husband to the multiverse agent. And Hsu, Hong, and Curtis are all able to transcend from various worlds with the assistance of special effects and stunts and writing and so forth.
This movie is a mind-boggling, ingenious, outrageously funny, and wisely intended experience for anyone who loves films from 1999, “Rick & Morty,” or anything strange in a unique feature. Bring your brain, because you’re gonna need it.
Now Playing in Select Theaters
Expands Everywhere April 8th
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