And here you thought the MCU had the market cornered on all things multiversal.
Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man), Everything Everywhere All at Once follows a struggling laundromat owner named Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) who inexplicably becomes wrapped up in an adventure of multiversal proportions. Visited by the “Alphaverse” version of her husband, Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan), Evelyn is told that the “Alpha” version of her daughter, Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu), is on a mission to destroy the multiverse, and he needs Evelyn’s help to stop her. Using a kind of “verse-jumping” technology that allows Evelyn to absorb the skills and memories of alternate versions of herself, Evelyn charges into the reality distorting, dimension-hopping, action-packed multiverse where she is forced to come to terms with who she truly is as a person in the grand scheme of the cosmos, while hopefully not unraveling reality in the process.
Right off the bat, this movie felt like something I had never seen before but something that I always wanted to experience. From the initial hook and set-up of the story to the wild places this film was eventually willing to go, I can’t commend the filmmakers enough (and Hollywood’s saving grace that is A24) for coming up with and then executing a film that ended up becoming the best moviegoing experience I’ve had in a while.
Structured around a wonderful cast led by Michelle Yeoh, the script does a great job building the film’s characters who are as delightful to watch as they are effective in playing their multiple alternate reality roles, with special kudos going out to Jamie Lee Curtis and her scene-stealing role as a dangerously efficient IRS inspector. Throw in the fact that for as cool as the multiverse angle is, this is still by and large a character-driven affair, so you have a film that not only expertly checks all entertainment boxes (some of the fight scenes are impressive as hell), but also gives audiences characters and relationships you genuinely care about.
All that said, I did have my nitpicks with the film and some elements of the overall script. For one, the runtime for this one was slightly too long to a point where the pacing felt a bit slow at times. Granted, there’s A LOT of exposition that needs to be relayed to understand even half of what’s going on (and even then things are a bit muddy), but each time we need to do so, it becomes less and less effective, feeling almost tiresome by the end of it all. Furthermore, and as much as I loved the wacky tone of the film, I sometimes found myself wanting the script to focus more on the serious aspects of the story rather than make a joke out of things — the “everything bagel” plot device a perfect example of this weird comedic/dramatic conflict that went a bit too far for me. Luckily none of these things really affected my experience in a super negative way, so I can let most of it slide.
So while I do think this one was a bit too long in the tooth and I wish the tone was ever so slightly more serious at times, Everything Everywhere All at Once is otherwise a rare treat of a film that’s as surprisingly good as it is fresh and inventive. I don’t know where these filmmakers will go next after this wild ride of a film, but it’s a ride I’m totally on board with nonetheless.