Movie Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a 2022 American absurdist metaphysical multiverse comedy-drama film written and directed by the duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The movie is a genre-bending adventure that takes the viewers on an epic journey through different universes, with a talented cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jenny Slate, and Harry Shum Jr.

The Basic Plot

The movie tells the story of Evelyn Wang, a Chinese American woman who struggles to finish her taxes but gets swept up into a wild adventure, in which only she can save the universe. The movie is divided into four parts, each corresponding to the title of the film: “Everything,” “Everywhere,” “All,” and “At Once.”

Everything

In this first part, we are introduced to Evelyn Wang and her mundane life as a laundromat owner. We also see glimpses of her parallel lives in other universes, such as a movie star, a singer, a chef, a spy, and a warrior.

Everywhere

The second part is called “Everywhere”, where Evelyn meets an alternate version of her husband Waymond, who explains that she is the chosen one who can save existence from Jobu Tupaki, a nihilistic entity who wants to destroy everything. Evelyn learns to jump between universes and absorb the skills and memories of her other selves.

All

In the third part “All”, Evelyn teams up with Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), a multiverse traveler who claims to be her ally. They encounter various obstacles and enemies along the way, such as Big Nose (Jenny Slate), a dog-loving assassin who uses a Pomeranian as a weapon; Alpha Jumpers, a group of elite fighters who use trophies as weapons; and Chad Biff Wiff (Harry Shum Jr.), a narcissistic TV host who tries to seduce Evelyn.

At Once

The fourth and final part is called “At Once”, where Evelyn confronts Jobu Tupaki, who turns out to be her daughter Joy from another universe. Joy reveals that she became disillusioned with existence after witnessing the horrors of war and suffering in different realities. She wants to end all life and start over with a blank slate. Evelyn tries to reason with her and show her the beauty and diversity of existence. They engage in an epic battle that spans multiple universes and genres, from sci-fi to musical to horror. Eventually, Evelyn manages to defeat Joy and restore balance to the multiverse

The Characters

The main characters of the movie are:

  • Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh. She is the protagonist who can travel across different realities and connect with her alternate selves. She is a laundromat owner who feels dissatisfied with her life.
  • Joy Wang, played by Stephanie Hsu. She is Evelyn’s daughter who works as a TV producer. She is also the villain of the movie in one of the alternate universes, where she goes by the name Jobu Tupaki and tries to destroy the multiverse.
  • Deirdre Beaubeirdre, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. She is a mysterious woman who recruits Evelyn for the multiverse mission. She claims to be from an organization called Alpha that monitors and protects the multiverse.
  • Waymond Wang, played by Ke Huy Quan. He is Evelyn’s husband who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. He is a former kung fu master who taught Evelyn martial arts.
  • Gong Gong, played by James Hong. He is Evelyn’s father who lives with her family. He is a retired opera singer who often sings in Cantonese.

There are also many other characters who appear as different versions of Evelyn or other people in various universes. Some of them are played by Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., Sunita Mani, Aaron Lazar, and Biff Wiff.

Visuals and Sound

The movie’s visuals and sound are stunning, with colourful and imaginative designs that bring to life the different universes Evelyn travels through. The special effects are seamless, and the sound editing is top-notch, adding to the movie’s immersive experience.

The sound design team consisted of supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Brent Kiser, ADR supervisor Julie Diaz, sound designer Andrew Twite, and re-recording mixer Alexandra Fehrman were able to balance the chaotic and absurd elements of the story with the emotional and grounded ones.

References and Homages

The movie is full of references, Easter eggs, and homages to various genres, cultures, and media. Some of them include sci-fi classics like The Matrix, Star Wars, and Doctor Who, as well as martial arts films like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle. The movie also references Michelle Yeoh’s real-life career as a martial arts movie star and reenacts some of her iconic stunts and fight scenes.

The movie has several nods to other films and TV shows, such as Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, The Karate Kid, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The references are subtle and can be easily missed, making the movie a treat for eagle-eyed viewers who love to spot hidden details.

What to watch out for

  • The movie has many parallels to The Matrix, such as Evelyn learning kung-fu by downloading skills from other universes, and using an umbrella to block security cameras. The directors have said that they wanted to make their own version of The Matrix.
  • The movie also references Michelle Yeoh’s real-life career as a martial arts movie star. Some of the footage used in the film is from her actual public appearances, such as the red-carpet premiere of Crazy Rich Asians. She also reenacts some of her iconic stunts and fight scenes from her previous films.
  • The movie has several nods to other sci-fi and fantasy films and TV shows, such as Back to the Future, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Karate Kid, The Joy Luck Club, The Good Place, Rick and Morty, Doctor Who, Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Some of these references are subtle, such as the number 42 on a ticket or a sign twirler holding a pizza sign.
  • The movie also has some meta-references to the cast members themselves. For example, Ke Huy Quan plays Waymond Wang, Evelyn’s husband who is a fan of Bruce Lee. Quan is best known for playing Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where he also imitated Bruce Lee. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Deirdre Beaubeirdre, a multiverse traveler who loves cats. Curtis is a real-life cat lover who has written children’s books about cats.
  • The movie has some hidden details that can only be seen by pausing or slowing down the frames. For example, in one scene where Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu) is holding a bagel, she can be seen holding what appears to be an Oscar statue in another frame. This could be a foreshadowing of the movie’s success at the Academy Awards.

Popular Reviews

The movie had a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and a 96% verified audience score, as well as an 8.9/10 rating on IMDb. As per a review “Everything Everywhere All at Once is at its core a very emotional film with deep themes of acceptance and understanding, as quoted by its characters.”

It is also described as having “Incredible acting, stunning visuals, and a really deep, powerful story – Everything Everywhere All at Once has it all.”

The Oscars wins

The movie won seven Oscars in 2023. It won best picture, director, lead actress for Michelle Yeoh, original screenplay, editing, supporting actor for Ke Huy Quan and supporting actress for Jamie Lee Curtis.

Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis shared the supporting actress award, making it the first time in Oscars history that two actors from the same film won in that category.

The Verdict

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a fun, thrilling, and thought-provoking movie that will appeal to audiences who love genre-bending adventures. The movie’s originality, humor, visuals, action, and Yeoh’s performance make it a must-see film. The movie has already won several awards and is expected to become a classic in the sci-fi and comedy genres. If you’re looking for a movie that will take you on a wild ride through different universes, then “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is the perfect choice.

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