In one of the universes in Everything Everywhere All At Once, Michelle Yeoh’s character, Evelyn, is a famous movie star. Some clips from this Universe are taken from actual red-carpet appearances of Yeoh. Now, I wonder if maybe we are actually living in that particular Universe. That would make sense to me because it does feel like this world is about to crumble and get sucked into an ominous-looking bagel.
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is a Chinese-American woman who runs a laundry shop with her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). Right at the start of the film, we get a glimpse of her struggles in keeping her family together: submitting to the demands of her doting father, Gong Gong; coming to terms with the fact that her daughter, Joy, has a girlfriend; and unbeknownst to her, Waymond wants a divorce. And it doesn’t help that their business is being audited by the IRS just because she purchased a karaoke machine.
If you think that’s already too much for Evelyn to handle, imagine when she learns that on top of all that, saving the multiverse falls on her shoulders as well! She gets a visit from Alpha Waymond, a version of Waymond from an alternate universe called the Alphaverse. He tells her that she’s the version of Evelyn who can save the infinite universes from the threat of Jobu Tupaki, a version of Joy who became evil in the Alphaverse. Now Evelyn must jump into various universes, and access the skills of her alternate versions to protect all of reality.
I’ve tried to avoid the inevitable comparison, but I’m fresh from seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and I think Everything Everywhere All At Once gave us the multiverse that Marvel was unable to deliver. Writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka ‘The Daniels,’ had obvious fun with the alternate realities in the movie, with many of these universes giving not-so-subtle nods to iconic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ratatouille, Paprika, and In the Mood for Love. If God was a cinephile, this is the multiverse he’d come up with.
This film is a riot. And true to its title, there’s little space to breathe as you get bombarded with all kinds of chaotic fun, weirdness, and expertly choreographed action in every instance, all at once. Even at its most tender moments, the film feels like it’s moving at a blink-and-you’ll-miss tempo. And it works because I guess that’s how Evelyn feels at most times, juggling the responsibilities of being a mom, daughter, wife, and entrepreneur; she can’t afford to lose focus even for a single moment. Everything Everywhere All at Once refers not only to the different universes overlapping each other but also to the weight of all the things that life throws at Evelyn.
Much like their 2016 film Swiss Army Man, The Daniels have married the profound with the absurd in Everything Everywhere All at Once. We explore the ‘what if’s’ of Evelyn’s story, and how even the smallest choices create a butterfly effect that affects not just her life, but the people around her too. The part that I loved most is how it presents the Yin and the Yang, as a bagel and googly eyes respectively. Those aren’t necessarily the first things on top of mind when I think about our existence but hey, if the Daniels were able to make an existential movie about a farting corpse work, for sure that they can do the same with bagels, googly eyes, and hotdog hands.
As its name suggests, Everything Everywhere All At Once is many things in one film. It’s profound, chaotic, action-packed, and most of all funny! It’s the kind of movie that disturbs you long after you have left the cinema. Overall, I’m just glad that I belong to a universe where this movie exists.