I like whacky films as much as the next guy. Cowriters/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert take on familiar themes at a breakneck pace, taking the best advantage of their impressive cast. Plot twists, action, weirdness, bizarre, asinine, silly, riotous – sign me up. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once goes beyond these descriptors and offers up an action-packed, head-slapping, mind-twisting, wild ride.
Michelle Yeoh stars as s beleaguered Chinese-American laundromat owner Evelyn. Her ever-optimistic husband Waymond’s (Ke Huy Quan) positivity drives her crazy, and her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is filled with resentment and angst. Evelyn cannot escape her life – a father who is perpetually disappointed in her, a husband who settles for mediocrity, a daughter whose lesbian lifestyle and personal choices embarrass her, and a lifetime of regret.
The multi-talented Yeoh’s perfect performance is highly and impressively relatable and equally good. The range of her characters, all versions of Evelyn, varies greatly, and Yoeh pulls each one off effortlessly. Her performance alone makes the film worth a look, and fortunately, the ensemble cast shines too. Quan, also a martial arts expert, switches between his personas as seamlessly as Yeoh and Hsu, who is limited to two versions of herself, does each with entertaining ease. Veteran actors James Hong (Gong Gong) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Deirdre Beaubeirdra) are delightful and awesome antagonists.
The story is insane – a mix of time-bending, multi-verse craziness with excellent thematic messages. Quan and Scheinert are no-holds-barred in their delivery, and nothing is off-limits – full-on matrix-style fight sequences, weird and wild weaponry (dildos and butt -plugs included), and silly, strange superpowers. They take full advantage of their title – the film is indeed Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.
Evelyn’s is a story about family, what could have been, what is regrettable, and struggles with depression executed in a way that surprises at almost every turn. Laughter comes in genuinely funny moments, and in those moments of shock and surprise – the awkward kind of chuckle. I feel confident that Everything, Everywhere, All at Once was exhausting to make. It is exhausting to watch, and still, there is a joyful satisfaction in how it all plays out. I am giving it five stars.