Everything Everywhere All at Once movie review – prepare to have your heart (and mind) broken
are you multi-verse (a term I just coined to describe people who are sick of stories featuring parallel worlds)? I feel your pain. Still, don’t prejudge this American hit, a bubbly, bubbly, ‘jumping verse’ adventure that’s easily one of the best comedies of the year.
Even if you just saw Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, can recite every line from Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, and count Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five as your bible, you won’t be able to guess the emotional trajectory of the Laundromat owner Evelyn Quan Wang.
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) may not be living her best life. Based in a seedy corner of Southern California, she has a shy husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), a creepy father, Gong Gong (James Hong), and a daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), who tends to eat. comfortably. Evelyn is exasperated by all of the above, but thinks her biggest problem is a tax audit with Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Tax regime max. Over the next 24 hours, Evelyn is recruited by intergalactic agents who say she must destroy a nihilistic, dildo-waving maniac, Jobu Tupaki. The Killer Twist: Tupaki is actually a version of Joy, who, it turns out, is borderline suicidal. Once Evelyn understands “verse skipping”, she acquires an amazing range of skills. But will she use these new powers against her own desperately vulnerable child?
The fight scenes are cool. The atmosphere is crazy. Space travelers impale their buttocks on sharp objects! Evelyn experiences lesbian life with hot dog fingers!
Yet we never lose sight of what’s at stake for our wounded/wounded heroine. Filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka the Daniels) say they feel the need to talk about “body” things. As the film begins, Evelyn looks thoughtfully at her daughter, then says, “You ARE fat!”
It is tempting, but wrong, to see the EEAAO as a thunderclap. Yes, it’s a response to TV shows, like Gilmore Girls, where cartoonish Asian parents are kept out. But the Daniels’ film is also part of a venerable tradition, echoing the brilliant novels by Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan that (in the ’70s and ’80s) spotlight complex and ambitious Asian moms.
The same tradition, of course, spawned Pixar’s hit Turning Red, a project that gave the gorgeous Sandra Oh another chance to shine. Sandra and Michelle (is it just me or would the world be immeasurably better if these two formed a band called Oh ‘n’ Yeoh?) are spearheading a revolution. One that’s relevant to all brilliant actors who feel trapped or headed for the knacker’s court.
Kelly McGillis, recently asked why she didn’t appear in Top Gun 2, said, “I’m old and I’m fat and…that’s not what this whole scene is about.” The Daniels are part of a new breed. In their alternative scene, it’s hot to be a no. Give your brains and your hearts; they are about to be broken.
In cinemas from May 13