The new A24 film was just as the title describes: Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022). A friend saw an early screening and reported that the movie was all over the place, not what he was expecting. Isn’t that in the title? – was my smart reply. I couldn’t possibly have expected what the film turned out to be, like many. The already-cult limited release film stars Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh from MCU’s Shang-Chi, Crazy Rich Asians, and numerous films) and Joy (Stephanie Hsu from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), with supporting roles Waymond (Ke Huy Quan from The Goonies), and Jamie Lee Curtis (The Halloween movies and Knives Out). Everything Everywhere is like the Matrix, but with OCD and hallucinogens, plus a heart’s dose of mother-daughter intergenerational intercultural growing pains. The movie currently scores 5 for the Incluvie score, and 4.5 for the Movie score, with 97% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. People love it! Personally, I wouldn’t say I love it, but I also didn’t dislike it.
The film was meant to be disjointed and discombobulated, but for me – it was too much. I felt like the film was a bit seizure-inducing and odd, from the hot-dog fingers world to the jump code of sticking a trophy into the asshole. The film makes fun of itself at times, granted, with Joy herself saying “what the fuck”, and Evelyn telling the alter-Waymond to be serious. The story does do a good job bringing all the disjointed nonsense together, which is not an easy feat with all the chaos within it.
The relationship between Evelyn and Joy reflects many mother-daughter relationships, especially those with an immigrant mother and American-born daughter. It’s specifically relatable for many Chinese Americans, Asian Americans, and Americans with parents from third-world countries. Evelyn tersely tells Joy to “lose weight because you’re getting fat”, and doesn’t fully embrace Joy having a girlfriend and being queer. The audience clearly sees Joy’s pain in her facial expressions. She’s clearly hurt and disappointed by her mother. The premise of the film is that Evelyn learns that Joy is seeking her approval and unconditional love – by way of multi-universe destruction, chaos, depression, and rage, with Alice-in-Wonderland-esque costumes and makeup for pizzazz. Although Joy as Jobu Tupaki in the multiverse is the destructive villain seeking Evelyn, Evelyn refuses to destroy her daughter, even when told the multiverse's existence depends on it. Jobu’s depressive and destructive spiral and belief that nothing matters compels Evelyn to take the mental leap to love and save Joy.
Evelyn loathes and pities her husband Waymond in their life together in a small dingy apartment above their laundromat. We see divorce papers, assuming they’re from Evelyn wanting to separate from Waymond. He is meek, awkward, and ridiculous – clearly unattractive to Evelyn. She, on the other hand, is grating, demanding, and unloving. We see a glimpse of Waymond gazing at an elderly couple in the hospital where the old woman tenderly kisses her husband on the cheek. It’s a stark contrast to Evelyn’s disgust towards himself. When the multiverse journey comes into play, the alternate Waymond is completely different. He is the same person, but confident, deliberate, and cool. Evelyn respects this new Waymond, and her love grows. Going through the different multiverse scenarios, a notable moment takes place when both Evelyn and Waymond are glamorous celebrities at an Oscar-esque event. In this universe, they are not married and meet each other on the grand staircase. After the show, Evelyn tells Waymond that in another life, they are living a pathetic life together above a laundromat. Waymond endearingly said he would choose that life over the glamorous life if they’re together. Waymond’s love and kindness are the impetus that compels Evelyn to save the multiverse, her marriage, and her daughter’s esteem.
Overall, the Everything Everywhere All at Once cast and crew made the film a crazy, but deeply moving movie. I would recommend it if only for a different perspective.