What would you do to save the multiverse?
It’s kind of funny that Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness opens in theaters in just a few weeks here, because Everything Everywhere All At Once basically renders that movie moot by doing the multiverse more coherently, more interesting, and more intelligently than I can ever imagine the MCU pulling off. Which isn’t to say Doctor Strange won’t be a blockbuster hit and make more in its first weekend than this film probably will over its entire run. But A24 continues knocking out those spectacular hits, and after sitting through the film Everything Everywhere All At Once is a strong contender for my favorite film of the year.
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is a aging Chinese woman who owns a laundromat in America. Life is hard; her marriage is falling apart, her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) seems to be drifting away, and Evelyn doesn’t know what to do about her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and how to introduce to her father (James Hong) that Joy is in a lesbian relationship (Tallie Medel). The laundromat is falling apart, and after years of incorrectly filing her taxes Evelyn comes face to face with the ire of the Internal Revenue Services agent Dierdre (Jamie Lee Curtis).
It all seems like a boring visit to the IRS when Evelyn is pulled from her chair and flung into action by her husband, only not her husband. This Waymond explains to her that the multiverse is real and it’s under attack by a mysterious entity Jobu Tupaki. This Evelyn is the only one out of the infinite multiverses of Evelyns who can possibly save the world and defeat Jobu Tupaki. And also get the big nosed lady her laundry on time.
Everything Everywhere All At Once can probably be best summed up as organized chaos. As Evelyn interacts with the multiverse and the events of the movie take place, you can really tell that the directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert knew what the hell they were doing. There’s obviously vestigial features in each universe that are added in for laughs or to be random, but it’s incredible how everything weaves together into a very emotional tale of finding one’s place in the universe. Stories about the infinite multiverse tend to ruin their own gravity as who cares what happens to a particular character if there are an endless amount of them. But Everything Everywhere All At Once never lets the audience lose sight and feeling for Evelyn and her family, the one we know from the start of the movie and the one that continues to be the center of attention.
It’s really crazy the kind of stuff they think of for this movie’s multiverses as well as how the characters tap into the multiverse to gain powers. Like a more grounded version of the Matrix, Evelyn is able to use her blue tooth phone headset to quickly process the life experiences of alternate timeline Evelyns in order to learn hibachi chef tactics, martial arts, and pretty much whatever she might need in order to survive. Her not quite Agent Smith enemies also have this power, and the film ends up turning somewhat into an arthouse adaptation of Rick and Morty combined with The Matrix. There’s a lot of high brow emotion with low brow humor, including a man shoving a buttplug up his ass in order to jack into the Matrix.
In fact I’ll go as far as saying Everything Everywhere All At Once is a better version of the actual Matrix reboot we got. It’s also fitting that the Russo brothers are on as producers for this movie. Everything Everywhere All At Once is an intelligent, charismatic, well written film with a fantastic cast. There’s a part in the film that is complete silence with dialogue shown on screen only through text. This scene must go on for nearly five minutes, and by this point the entire theater was silent and enraptured.
At two hours and twenty minutes, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a long film. But damn does it warrant that run time. I actually thought the film was ending at what must be the halfway point, only for the screen to pop up and be like “nope, we’re only in act two mother fudger.” Jamie Lee Curtis is also fantastic as the crude IRS agent who disgustingly chugs a bottle of what looks like a protein shake. The film has great fight scenes, beautiful visuals, powerful acting, and a plot that will keep you hooked until the very last minute.