It has been a long time since I was as excited to see a movie–a NON-comic-book-movie, I should clarify–as I was to see Everything Everywhere All At Once. And honestly? I really shouldn’t have been, based just upon history. EEAAO was released by A24, and that is a studio I’ve been all over the map on with my feelings, but the only thing I’ve truly enjoyed so far as been The Disaster Artist. X was good, but not great. I respected Hereditary on a technical level, but didn’t actually LIKE it, and Midsommar… the less I go into my feelings on that, the better.
And yet… from the moment I first saw the trailer for Everything Everywhere All At Once, I was stoked to get around to seeing it. It just looked to be so damn much fun! Colorful and vibrant and action-packed… I just had to know if it lived up to its trailer! Sure it had one of the worst and most unwieldy titles ever, but that’s forgivable, right? I friggin’ love To Wong-Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, after all.
The story here (and I’ll keep this as basic and SPOILER-FREE as possible for now) is of a very typical and normal Chinese immigrant named Evelyn who runs a generic laundromat with her husband, Waymond, and their daughter, Joy. Living with them is her ailing father, Gong-Gong. Evelyn’s business is in disarray as she faces a tax audit, and her family life is in shambles as she tries to hide Joy’s girlfriend from Gong-Gong.
As Evelyn, Waymond, and Gong-Gong arrive at the IRS building for their audit, an eerily familiar stranger (wait, that isn’t right. Maybe “a mysteriously unknown loved one” instead) pulls Evelyn aside and reveals to her the secret of the multiverse… and tells her of the ability to access the lives of other versions of herself. It is the key to saving all reality.
And stuff happens from there. I’ll get into it after the trailer break!
But for here? I can honestly say this movie easily rose to my expectations. It is an absolute blast. There are parts that are… well, they go beyond weird. Is “bizarre” a stronger word than “weird”? Pick an adjective here, I guess. Silly. Nonsensical. Loony. The movie wholly embraces the idea of a multiverse, and the filmmakers clearly wanted to have fun with it. But make no mistake: there is a lot of heart here, too.
All right, AFTER THE TRAILER, I’LL START DIVULGING SPOILERS! So if you want to skip those, head down to after the banner!
A reality where everyone has hot dogs for fingers. A reality where Evelyn has a super powered pinky finger. A reality where life never came to be and Evelyn is just a rock. A reality where a raccoon pulls a Ratatouille on a crappy chef. The movie doesn’t strictly stick to “Oh, now she knows karate. Now she knows about a hidden door…” type scenarios. There is berserk levels of imagination at work here.
And yet… everything in this movie’s verse-jumping and brawling is window dressing for a story that deals with familial bonds, disappointment with your choices, failed relationships, depression, and inability to deal with who you really are. We are told the Evelyn at the heart of our movie is the one that has made EVERY wrong choice. She is the worst possible version of herself; she has no talents or hidden knowledge. She just leads a failing life.
At some point, most of us have felt that way, right? Like we aren’t good enough. Or if we had done something different, we’d be in a better place than we are now. Everyone has regrets; everyone wishes they were better. This movie hits you by making you think about what could have been.
In one reality, Evelyn and Waymond were scientists who first discovered the multiverse. In that world, Evelyn pushed Joy far beyond what a human should be capable of. Joy’s mind fractured at having access to every reality ever available to her, and she realized nothing matters. So she decided to destroy all that is… with an everything bagel.
(You’d think THAT would be the worst version of Evelyn since everything is that one’s fault, but…)
After fighting Joy across various timelines, Evelyn finally realizes that war isn’t the answer. Her husband–the man she spends the movie chiding as hopeless and useless–lives with the only outlook that matters: love and optimism. And so she begins to use her ability to show Joy’s minions the best versions of themselves. And finally, in accepting Joy for who she is in any and every reality, she gets her daughter back.
I’m not doing any of this justice; I just wrote a very lame and cheesy summary about a deeper movie that handles it all so much better than I could explain. Even WITH some spoiler material. The greatness of the movie isn’t in the message; it’s in the execution.
Before I do my wrap-up, let’s give a quick shout out to the trailers I saw with my showing of EEAAO. Dr. Strange continues to look great. Nope still looks like it will be another wonderful outing for Jordan Peele. My wife finally got to see the ad for Bullet Train and agrees with me that it looks like a blast. For the first time, I saw a trailer for Karen Gillian’s upcoming Dual, and I’m now anticipating that one. Men looks creepy enough that I’ll give it a go even though A24’s horror isn’t always for me.
Quality upcoming year of movies!
Anyway, yeah… I was a fan of this film. I haven’t seen a ton yet, but it’s easily the best movie of all the 2022 new releases I’ve seen so far (as the image above shows). Will it be #1 by year’s end? Well, the Into The Spiderverse sequel comes out this winter, so let’s pump the breaks on that. But it could well be my #1 going into December.
It’s really THAT great, folks.
The performances from Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis are all phenomenal. The movie is a bit long at 2:20, but when I’m enjoying a movie this much, that’s an easily tolerable length. That said, the third act does get a bit… “get on with it” when it completely spells out how it’s going to wrap up, but still takes its time getting there. You could pretty easily knock this down to 2:00 even and not lose much, probably. But get a comfy seat and just enjoy the ride as is, I say.
If you haven’t seen it, do yourself the favor. If you have? Hell, see it again. I might.
Until next time… take care!