There are some movies that are so well-crafted and unique that it is clear they are going to be something special from the first moment. Everything Everywhere All at Once, the latest from duo the Daniels (Swiss Army Man) is one of them. The movie features a spectacular central performance by Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, who runs a laundromat with her husband Waymond (an also excellent Ke Huy Quan). While she prepares to throw a Chinese New Year party for her customers she must also contend with caring for her aging father Gong Gong (James Hong), strained relations with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and IRS auditor Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis).
As she rides up an elevator in the IRS offices her husband’s head snaps back and he begins speaking to her as if a different person. He claims to be a version of himself from an alternate Earth who needs her help to defend the entire multiverse from an evil entity known as Jobu Tupaki bent on destroying it and hands her a paper with a set of instructions on it before turning back to his normal self. Evelyn understandably doesn’t know what to make of what just happened, but during the audit she follows the instructions and is rocketed into the janitor’s closet where the alternate Waymond further explains what is going on before being attacked by an alternate version of Deirdre.
Now armed with the ability to jump between universes in order to gain the skills of other versions of herself, Evelyn finds herself running from Jobu’s minions while still trying to get a handle on things and also learning that her husband had planned on filing for a divorce. It’s a lot to take in, and as she sees how her life could have turned out if she had made different decisions, including never marrying Waymond, she struggles to cope with all of it. But cope she must, if she is to save her daughter, her marriage, her life, and the entire multiverse.
Almost from its first minute this movie is the best kind of bonkers. With a pitch-perfect blend of absurdist and often crude humor, thrillingly choreographed fight sequences, and a deep vein of genuine pathos it makes its complicated plot engaging and easy to follow. Likewise, it proves a fantastic vehicle for deeper discussions about the nature of humanity, the meaning of life, and the power of kindness. Even the silliest moments of this movie (and there are a lot of them) feel like genius when it’s all put together and I can think of few filmmakers working right now who could better blend so many disparate tones and ideas into such a beautifully chaotic but cohesive whole. This is an early front runner for the best movie of the year, and one that will be very hard to beat. ★★★★★
Rated R for Some Violence, Sexual Material, and Language.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor