Nothing is simple or sane, and nowhere does it say it has to be.
So “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a stew of incredibility and imagination, perhaps everything and anything you might not expect in a film.
It’s maniacal, but magical; it’s whimsical, yet wonderful; it’s delightful yet disastrous; and it seemingly doesn’t end, so it offers twin endings. Like, “The End” twice.
Basically, it’s an original oddity, starring an agile and admirable Michelle Yeoh, as an operator of a laundromat who doesn’t quite know how to pay her bills so has ills with the IRS. She is the essence of a wreck-a-holic on steroids, in a grand way.
As directed by a pair of Daniels, who like to be known as the Daniels (last names, Kwan and Sheinert), this is an action film disguised as a comedy yet plays like a superheroine adventure complete with matters of the universe. It’s like a video game run amok, a family sit-com with kicks and kinks leading to a cosmic explosion of emotions and antics, a vision or version of apocalyptic end-of-the-world with more domestic ripples anchored to getting along with grandpa and a gay daughter, etc.
It’s a longish journey (running time, 2:20, but seems endlessly longer) that dodges the finish line with extended gags, which results in lags, and it certainly is overwhelming and overpowering in the constant conflicts of relationships between leading and secondary characters.
Yeoh is remarkably athletic in stamina as Evelyn Wang, who ditched the family while she was young, who now owns a laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, the once-young lad in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” now converted into a modern-day comedic Jackie Chan), who unite with patriarch Gong Gong (James Hong), the aging but able great-grandfather of the Chinese elderly dude), to celebrate Chinese New Year. But life is complex; the washing machines are below the parental residence, Waymond is seeking a divorce from Evelyn, who has to face the music and madness of an IRS audit; the couple’s daughter (Stephanie Hsu), has admitted she’s gay and brings home “good friend” partner Becky (Tallie Medel) for the family shebang.
Evelyn’s nemesis here includes Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), the irrepressible IRS investigator who threatens the demise of the laundromat unless its owner can settle its questionable tax debt. Curtis is recognizable in face, but is padded with body prosthetics, and turns in a wacky, wicked performance as an IRS-er you don’t want to mess with.
The themes of filial love and respect, parental patience, spousal connections, and a heavy dose of metaverse threats and invasions where nothing is as it seems, everything and everywhere is blended into a toxic brew as if thrown into a food processor. Time is bent, twisted, flashing backward and forward, blurring reality.
And there are some icky, sticky, even sickly mess of elements, like a discomforting anal moment with a trophy substituting for a sexual device. And silly, recurring instances of googly eyes; you know, the kind of stick-on fake eyes.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are frequent unexpected sci-fi gems: hotdogs posing as fingers, toes playing the piano, for starters.
Because of its original, fresh storytelling, unfolded in bursts of clever visual and aural trickery, the Daniels have created a logical Gen Z product with word-of-mouth assist in making this a buzzed-about hit.
However, “Everything” is not for everyone, since mostly everything is unconventional and stuff keeps popping up everywhere without expectation. But you will be awed and astonished at everything you understand and even astonished by everything you didn’t quite get.
However, everything considered, you’ll have a roar of a great time.
And that’s Show Biz…