The title of Everything Everywhere All At Once says it all. This film sets out to do a lot, but it’s in the rare position of achieving everything it attempts to do.
Everything Everywhere All At Once comes from the directing duo Daniels — Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The Daniels are famous for their work on the wildly ridiculous Swiss Army Man and they prove themselves willing to go even bigger and bolder in this film.
Everything Everywhere is anchored by Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a middle-aged laundromat owner going through a mid-life crisis. At this point in her life, Evelyn is not living, she is merely existing. She’s going through the motions in an unhappy marriage, she’s dreading the visit of her elderly, judgemental father and she’s struggling to approve of her daughter’s girlfriend which results in their constant mother-daughter disagreements. Not to mention her laundromat business is being audited by the IRS.
After a failed meeting with the IRS agent from hell, Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn is approached by a team of ‘verse-jumpers’. This team is led by none other than her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), except this isn’t the Waymond she knows who loves to put googly eyes on inanimate objects. This is Waymond from the Alpha universe who has come to warn Evelyn of an unstoppable multiversal evil known as Jobu Tapaki that has taken up residence in the body of her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu).
To stop Jobu Tapaki, this version of Evelyn, which is considered to be the most ordinary and least fulfilled version, has to step up. Thankfully she has access to some slick verse-jumping technology that can help her draw on the talents of her multiversal lives to become the ultimate Evelyn.
From here Everything Everywhere is a non-stop ride of insane action battles, beautiful cinematic shots and hilariously gross sequences.
The rules of this multiverse are laid out at breakneck speed. In order to tap into the consciousness of an alternate self, verse-jumpers need to undertake radical actions that will change their life paths. This results in some of the most visceral and downright silly moments in the film as characters employ cringeworthy actions like eating an entire chapstick or intentionally giving themselves paper cuts to bring on additional abilities.
It’s a set of very weird concepts and yet it completely works.
As Evelyn begins to master verse-jumping we’re propelled through an infinite number of different multiverses each with its own vibrant colours, costumes and cinematic styles. One universe sees Evelyn as a popular film star, another shows her as a sentient rock.
The possibilities are literally limitless and Everything Everywhere uses that to its advantage.
As she experiences multiple different lives it’s made clear to Evelyn just how much she’s been missing in her own universe. Waymond is ready to divorce her and Joy is ready to cut ties with her. Evelyn needs to make a radical change, but it takes saving her daughter from a multiversal entity to make her see it.
Amongst this whirlpool of smash cuts and colourful fight sequences, Everything Everywhere clings to a very human story. The film wraps the issues of multigenerational Asian families and LGBTQ+ relationships into an exciting yet touching multiversal adventure that somehow manages to make you feel something about people with sausages for fingers.
This is in large part thanks to the stellar cast of the film. Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huay Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis threaten to outdo each other as scene-stealers and if Michelle Yeoh doesn’t get an Oscar nomination next year it’s time to riot.
The directors have really achieved something remarkable with Everything Everywhere. So many elements of this film simply should not work, but in the Daniels’ hands they all do.
The multiverse in particular is a concept that has become overused as of late, particularly between warring DC and Marvel blockbusters. However, the Daniels have presented us with a completely fresh take on the idea.
Everything Everywhere takes complete advantage of the opportunities the multiverse concept provides and also doesn’t rely on star cameos or big budget crossovers for the wow factor. If Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness achieves half as much as what Everything Everywhere does, we’re in for one hell of a movie
If there’s one drawback to the film it’s that it demands you keep up and it demands you do it for the full 2 hours and 20 minutes. This can leave you feeling exhausted and frazzled, but also buzzing with energy, almost as if you’ve been on a rollercoaster.
In the end, it’s all worth it because this is one of the few films you can come out of the cinema saying you’ve had an experience.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is a beacon of originality amongst a sea of reboots, remakes and sequels. It’s guaranteed to be something you won’t have seen before and that makes it something you don’t want to miss.
Everything Everywhere All At Once – The Verdict
Pros: An original, thrilling and often hilarious take on the concept of the multiverse, star performances from everyone involved, a true cinematic experience.
Cons: Runtime is a bit too long.
Watch it if you like: The Matrix, Swiss Army Man, Doctor Strange.
Everything Everywhere All At Once opens in Australian cinemas on April 14.