Trying to review Everything Everywhere All At Once, the latest films from the Daniels who previously brought us Swiss Army Man, is akin to attempting to push jelly up hill, whilst singing Barbie Girl, with no shoes on, across hot coals.
But attempt it I must, for, whilst this movie can best be summed up with the words “utterly bonkers”, it’s utterly bonkers in the best possible ways. Imagine peak Jackie Chan movies made love to The Matrix (which, if you’ve seen peak JC movies you’ll know the…anyway, let’s not go down that particular white rabbit hole!), had an affair with Rick & Morty by way of Bjork and bumped uglies with the South Park creators, Parker & Stone, for good measure and wooed Ratatouille.
That will still be nowhere near the madness of Everything Everywhere All At Once. A movie that crams nearly every possible movie genre into one and is unapologetic with it, as it should be.
In its simplest form, Everything Everywhere All At Once is about Evelyn Wang, Michelle Yeoh (“Gunpowder Milkshake”, “Crazy Rich Asians”), as she attempts to pay her taxes for the failing laundromat she runs with husband Waymond Wang, Ke Huy Quan (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “The Goonies”), whilst looking after her father Gong Gong, James Hong (“Big Trouble in Little China”, “The Golden Child”), and attempting to get along with daughter Joy, Stephanie Hsu (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (TV)”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”).
In order to pay her taxes, she must get past the most formidable of tax inspectors at the IRS, Deirdre Beaubeirdra, Jamie Lee Curtis (“Knives Out”, “A Fish Called Wanda”), an inspector with multiple awards for her thoroughness, awards that look like…well, something you’d see in a sex dungeon.
Or, perhaps Everything Everywhere All At Once is about Evelyn as she attempts to focus on what’s important in her life. Is it her business? Is it her husband? Is it her daughter? Some combination of them all?
Or, perhaps it’s about Waymond’s approach to life and how infectious that can be and what it can mean for others, how we can all be nice to each other and still get what we want, without resorting to violence etc.
Or, maybe Everything Everywhere All At Once is about Jobu Tupaki (Joy from another universe) as she attempts to find meaning to her life and everything whilst Waymond from another universe attempts to stop her from destroying his universe and all others.
You could even say it’s about missed opportunities as Evelyn is told she’s the version of herself that’s left when all other decisions that lead to something ‘good’ have happened. She’s the ‘left behind’, always searching for something in her life, some meaning or opportunity, finally, perhaps, this is it.
In truth, Everything Everywhere All At Once is about all of those things, but you could quite easily watch it and not get any of them, simply watching the spectacle play-out on screen. A spectacle that includes a parallel universe in which everyone has hot dogs for fingers, or a man has a raccoon on his head, controlling him as he makes food in a kitchen (called Raccacooni), where Evelyn and Joy are rocks and so much more.
Yeoh is masterful as Evelyn, showing her skills in the fight scenes and equalling that in the more dramatic moments. Quan is every bit as good, his character has echoes of Wall-e, just wanting to love and be loved amongst all this madness, whilst Hsu flicks between her range of emotions and characters with aplomb.
Then we come to Curtis who, quite simply, is magnificent. Switching from serious IRS investigator to serious IRS investigator with mad pro-wrestling skills in an instant. Portraying emotion whilst waving hot dog fingers around, it looks like she had an absolute blast.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is, all at once: funny, dramatic, surreal, insane and utterly bonkers and, you know what? I loved it!
13th May 2022
THE QUICK SELL
An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.