Review of “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) are immigrants running a failing laundromat and facing an IRS audit performed by the very picky Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis) while also coming to grips with their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) dating a woman named Becky (Tallie Medel). Adding to the pressure, Evelyn’s father, referred to by the Chinese word for “grandfather”, Gong Gong (James Hong), is visiting. On the elevator ride to the audit, Waymond begins acting odd. He writes down instructions for Evelyn to follow that make no sense and tells her he’s not her husband but a person from another reality and she’s the only person that can save the multiverse from a growing threat called Jobu Tupaki. Evelyn thinks Waymond has gone insane, but a series of events leads her to believe his crazy story and she begins fighting to preserve all realities across the multiverse.

It makes even less sense when you see “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The film requires a great deal of patience on the part of the viewer, but you will be rewarded with a witty, imaginative, entertaining thrill ride…up to a point.

Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Stephanie Hsu all turn in amazing performances, making the insanity of hopping from one reality to another, with a new set of skills depending on the need at the time, into a coherent story with relatable characters, complicated relationships, and understandable situations. It would be like putting three distinct kinds of cake into a blender, mixing them up, then picking out only the bits from one of the cakes. It is at times a mess and not always worth the effort, but it leads to something delicious if you have the time.

The film makers don’t seem to know how to bring all the chaos to an end. There is an actual fake ending that looks like credits are rolling, but the actors names are their character names. We are seeing a different reality where Evelyn is a famous actor in martial arts films. Characters die, but only in one reality, so we aren’t sure if this is a real ending or not. The film runs out of steam and begins crafting endings for the various realities we’ve visited. There are dozens of realities visited in the movie and soon it’s difficult to keep track of one from another.

When we finally, FINALLY reach a conclusion after two-plus hours of mayhem, it feels as if the writers/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, billed as Daniels, aren’t sure what to do. We get a squishy, feel-good, kumbaya ending that feels wrong. If Jobu Tupaki is this malevolent evil looking to annihilate all reality, it seems like a firm hug and an “I love you” shouldn’t be enough to solve the problem. Maybe I’m too cynical and want all my finales to feel earned and justified. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” takes the easy way to a happy conclusion, not a satisfying one.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is rated R for some violence, sexual material and language. There is numerous fights throughout the film. There is very little gore. The sexual material is the use of two cylindrical items in a bizarre way. Foul language is scattered, but the “F-word” is used a couple of times.

I really wanted to love “Everything Everywhere All at Once” as it has an unusual premise and features Michelle Yeoh, an actor deserving of much more fame and recognition than she has received over her long career. Real critics universally love it, and we all suggest you see it. However, I think it could be tightened up by about 20 minutes and the ultimate ending could be better. It deserves your money and eyeballs but be prepared to leave the theater wondering if it couldn’t be improved.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” gets 3.5 stars out of five.

Follow, rate, review and download the podcast Comedy Tragedy Marriage. Each week my wife and I take turns picking a movie to watch, watch it together, then discuss why we love it, like it or loath it. Find it wherever you get podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan.

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