Note: This review contains no spoilers of significance.
Other than knowing both Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (the “Daniels,” who also directed the absurd Swiss Army Man) directed Everything Everywhere All At Once I decided to watch this film completely blind. It was garnering incredibly high praise as it was number 7 on Letterboxd’s 250 highest rated films of all time and getting 10’s from any review I glanced at. I was a bit of a cynic when I first heard this. Immediately I assumed that it was going to drop in status quickly and become another passing 5/5 stars movie that everyone loves for a week and eventually notices the problems later.
I could not have been more wrong.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is a multiverse movie made for people who are sick of multiverses. The Daniels make multiverses the simplest they could be: a multiverse in Everything Everywhere All At Once are separate life paths where one decision in one’s life can branch off into an entire other reality. Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) taps into the powers of her other lives. These powers allow her to fight countless enemies throughout the film and provide for some unexpectedly incredible action sequences. Through using a completely fresh idea of a multiverse, the Daniels already begin the movie creatively different from the oversaturated market of movies with the notion of more than one universe.
The action sequences burst with perfect stunt work and choreography. Each action scene has a comical and unrealistic feel without sacrificing choreography and fighting tactics. Many comedy/action movies, i.e. Deadpool, try desperately to insert humor while also having action – the end result being a forgettable set of action sequences and even less engaging choreography. Everything Everywhere All At Once subverts this expectation by having charming, hilarious, and impressive action easy to recall. Just to name one of the many bizarre action sequences, Jenny Slate, who plays Debbie the dog mom (really her name), picks up her K9 and begins throwing it by the leash at Evelyn as a weapon. This prompts Evelyn to tap into a universe where she is a cook in order to gain the skill necessary to wield a knife to cut the dog’s leash while it is flying in the air. Now if anything I just described sounds strange or funny to you, this one’s for you.
Comedy here comes in both the physical and dialogue, both quick to draw laughs. A lot of this is accomplished through the wonderful performances like Ke Huy Quan – whom you may remember as the kid who acted in The Goonies and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. He steals the show as Waymond, a hilariously cute and lovable husband and father who just wants a second shot at life. Similarly, Michelle Yeoh as the wife also regrets and feels anger towards her laughably oblivious husband. It’s a pairing with chemistry, as they make a couple full of love yet regret for said love. The Daniels choose to show this particular regret via the universe Evelyn visits where she never left with Waymond to america; instead, she pursues her career becoming a massively famous movie and karate star. (She even expresses to Waymond soon after that she saw her life without him and it was beautiful.)
Having seen the film twice now – once with friends and once with my family – I expected the reactions to the comedic scenes, specifically one featuring a butt plug and a person jumping towards said butt plug, to be vastly different. What happened was the opposite. Both my friends and my family laughed extremely hard during the whole movie, including my dad, a man who’ll open his iPad during these types of movies, found a large portion of it amusing. It’s this accessibility that helps Everything Everywhere All At Once become such a lovable film. Anyone can connect.
As any good movie will sometimes do, the themes go in all different directions. One that lands particularly well, though, is an overarching message of family and letting people go. In Evelyn, viewers see a lady who constantly refuses to accept that Joy, her daughter, wishes to live her own life. Evelyn expresses how she wishes for Joy to stay home and stick to family traditions. Yet Joy wishes to be on her own without the ruling opposition of her mother she now resents which perfectly bridges her into becoming the main villain of the story. It makes the audience feel for Joy and the disconnect between her parents and connect with her need for a life on her own. It’s something a whole lot of us have felt.
Being the highest grossing A24 film of all time, earning over fifty million dollars at the box office, I can only hope the Daniels are given a larger spotlight in the mainstream now. Their craft is a unique style of directing. The quick cuts and overblown sound effects combined with the smooth flow of the story and how perfectly the film transitions from scene to scene are now their hallmarks. The Daniels deserve every bit of praise they garner.
Everything Everywhere All At Once has fast become one of my A24 favorites, a favorite that will leave the audience wondering why they just cried at a silly multiverse movie.