According to some scientific theories, all of reality exists not within one universe, but a multiverse, and possibly no movie ever made has had more fun with that idea than “Everything Everywhere All At Once”.
Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (or “Daniels”) and placing the concept of parallel universes within the most grounded setting possible in a perfect marriage of polar opposites, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a kung fu, sci-fi multiverse comedy in which the contents of its title are never being shortchanged.
Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, or rather many different versions of her across the Multiverse, with Ke Huy Quan doing the same as her husband, Waymond Wang.
Stephanie Hsu portrays Evelyn’s daughter Joy, as well as the Multiverse-travelling villainess Jobu Tupaki, with James Hong playing Evelyn’s father Gong Gong.
Jamie Lee Curtis also appears as IRS tax handler Deirdre Beaubeirdra, while Tallie Medel plays Joy’s girlfriend, Becky.
Evelyn Wang thought her life would be so different from being the owner of a failing laundromat back when she married her husband Waymond.
Things have difficult for the Wang family generally, with Evelyn’s father Gong Gong visiting from China as her daughter Joy is trying to get her family to accept her lesbian girlfriend, Becky.
Unbeknownst to Evelyn, Waymond is also preparing divorce papers, while the family’s laundromat is undergoing an IRS audit. All of those problems quickly go out the window when Waymond is suddenly possessed by the Waymond of the Alpha universe, who pulls Evelyn out of the tax appointment to fill her in on news she never expected.
With reality itself facing imminent destruction by Jobu Tupacki (who was previously the Joy of the Alpha universe), Evelyn is tasked with stopping her to save the entire Multiverse.
With Waymond’s help and “verse-jumping” technology, the reluctant and perplexed Evelyn is pulled along into the craziest adventure of her life.
If there’s a breakout comeback for 2022, it has to be for Ke Huy Quan in his performance as Waymond in “Everything Everywhere All At Once”.
The former ‘Short Round’, returning to acting after nearly two decades, does as much zig-zagging as his own character as different versions of Waymond throughout the Multiverse.
However, Alpha Waymond is by far the most fun, laying out the rules of the Multiverse as fast as he possibly can, such as the fact that every choice one makes results in a new universe’s creation.
Like Morpheus guiding Neo through the rules of “The Matrix”, Waymond’s “verse-jumping” action scenes and guidance for Evelyn enliven the film, whether in Waymond’s frantic explanations of the stakes the multiverse faces or his fanny-pack kung fu battle with IRS guards.
Michelle Yeoh’s performance as Evelyn is also one of her best in years as a cynical and regret-filled woman realizing different directions her life could’ve gone in and her own unrealized potential.
Waymond and Evelyn’s optimistic and passive perspectives on life form a trifecta of sorts against Jobu Tupacki’s nihilism.
Able to experience literally everything everywhere all at once throughout the multiverse, Jobu comes to see all of existence as a circle of meaninglessness.
For all of its zany, slapstick comedy “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a deep and very thoughtful deconstruction of second thoughts on life choices and existentialism that audiences are sure to reflect on.
Of course, an equally strong reflection point are the action scenes of “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, which bring the glory days of Hong Kong action movies to the A24 arthouse pool.
Ke Huy Quan’s aforementioned fanny pack fight starts the action off marvelously (Quan frankly wouldn’t make a bad choice at all for a Jackie Chan biopic), while the presence of the Martial Club team is a big-screen dream come true.
Fans of Andy and Brian Le’s action-packed YouTube channel know they need no introduction, as both fight choreographers and some of Evelyn’s verse-jumping opponents work their magic in 2022’s best martial arts movie fights so far.
They also fully embrace the insane shenanigans the movie calls upon, as seen in one of the highlight fights that’s a trophy holder in an unusually literal sense.
Overstating how much creativity the verse-jumping gimmick adds to the martial arts action scenes of the movie is practically impossible in how one-of-a-kind they are. Surely, the world’s never seen a final showdown in which a giant bagel can put an end to all of existence, and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” sets that bar high for future contenders in that er…admittedly very niche concept.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” embraces its craziness as no other movie this year has or likely will.
Outstanding martial arts sequences, hellacious comedy, tear-jerking family drama, actors verse-jumping from one version of their characters to another, and a breakdown of accepting one’s choices while always striving to be better. If that’s not the essential substance of “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, nothing is!
- “I was hoping you could explain to me how a karaoke machine could be a business expense.” –Deirdre (to Evelyn.)
- “You can either come with me and live up to your potential or lie on the floor.” – Alpha Waymond (to Evelyn.)
- “I’ll lie on the floor.” – Evelyn (in reply.)
- “The hot dog one was worse!” – Evelyn (after being told she’s living the worst life of any Evelyn in the Multiverse.)
- The movie was originally written with Jackie Chan in mind as the protagonist of the film. Kwan and Scheinert later reworked the script of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” to have a female lead.
- Ke Huy Quan was previously part of another Multiverse martial arts film. Specifically, he served as fight choreographer, Corey Yuen’s assistant on Jet Li’s 2001 movie “The One”.
- Awkwafina was originally going to appear in the movie, but scheduling issues led to her pulling out.
- Ke Huy Quan had retired from acting in 2002, citing a lack of opportunities for Asian actors in Hollywood. The success of 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians”, in which Michelle Yeoh also appeared, convinced him to return to the business.