“Everything Everywhere All at Once” may be the stupidest movie I’ve seen in quite some time and it may be one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
I have a love-hate relationship with A24 studios. On one hand, I feel the overwhelming majority of their catalog are some of the most pretentious brand of hippie bait I’ve ever seen in my life with films that try to be WAY smarter than they are in reality.
On the other hand, they tend to produce some of the only small-budget films that try to take chances in their filmmaking in a way we haven’t seen since the 1980s. When it works, you get great movies like “Hereditary” and “Uncut Gems“. When it doesn’t, you get pompous films like “Lady Bird” and “The Green Knight“. When they get it wrong, they get it wrong but when they get it right, they truly knock it out of the park.
The film begins with the story of a laundromat owner named Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh). Everlyn’s life is quickly falling apart. She is a workaholic who struggles with the task of balancing her personal life with the business. As a result, she has an estranged relationship with her father, her husband barely communicates with her leading to him calling for a divorce, her daughter is distant from her, and to make matters worse, she is now getting audited by the IRS.
When Evelyn and her family arrive at the IRS building, she is greeted by her husband from another universe who tells her that she is the key to stopping an evil force named Jobu Tupaki, who is killing Everlyn in different universes. Evelyn discovers that she is part of a multiverse and she quickly has to discover how to tap into her abilities across the multiverse before her world is plunged into darkness by the ultimate force of nihilism…her daughter.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is less of a movie and more of an experience. The movie may trick you into thinking that watching a film about the origin story of a middle-aged Chinese woman turned superhero but this story has more twists and turns than a racetrack.
The first rule is don’t take anything seriously because the film does not. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an absurd concept where people across the multiverse have to perform wacky and mundane tasks to tap into their abilities. Things such as switching shoes to the wrong feet, drinking half-and-half, giving herself four papercuts, and sitting on a butt plug. Whatever film you think you are getting in the first act due to its massive exposition dump is thrown out the window by act 2.
Plot details and story aren’t important in this dark comedy tackles a far more complex issue which is the internal battle between nihilism and the human condition. The temptation of submitting to cynicism is strong for many people, some would say it has been a key flaw in our society. In the absence of purpose and direction, many people take the route of “life is meaningless and nothing means anything”. It’s a trap of enteral darkness that people get stuck in and sadly some never pull themselves out of. The film explores this dilemma by exploring the worst-case scenario of a family in crisis. The film is a metaphor for the questions we ask ourselves in our darkest hours.
“Would I have been happier if I was divorced?”
“Can I ever meet my family’s expectations?”
“Does life have any true meaning?”
The film acknowledges the darkest pain of depression and then goes to the crossroads of embracing a nihilist reality or rejecting the endless cycle of cynicism. Everything story, character, and action-wise is simply a bonus to the true message of life and its struggles.
The only true complaint about the film is that the 3rd act drags on FAR too long. When the film reaches the point of climax, it hits that point and then continues for another 20 minutes killing the momentum of the film. If the film had stopped at that point and gone home, this would have easily been a 5-star movie but much like “The Irishmen”, the only thing working against it is its runtime.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a film that was so close to greatness but at the end of the day couldn’t get out of its way. But it is still one of the top movies you will see in 2022.