From Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as the Daniels, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a madcap and vivid film (with echoes of “Brazil”) which offers a dose of quantum physics along with its entertainment.
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is a Chinese American woman who runs a laundry with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). They are behind on their taxes and hounded by the IRS. At a stressful office visit, Waymond uncharacteristically gives her a list of instructions and tells her to press the green button. Evelyn and Waymond are briefly transported to a closet where her husband acts in a forthright declarative manner, gradually hinting that they are under attack, and the fate of all the multiple universes hang in the balance. Evelyn is beside herself, but like Alice in Wonderland, she catches on and follows her list of instructions.
She is transported to several realities and countless versions of herself as Evelyn trying to keep her composure. The visual effects that oscillate between live action and animation are quite dazzling, even if the plot is zany and illogical.
The most fun is had when you just let go (like Evelyn herself does) and forego rational thought.
Evelyn gradually divines that the main agent of chaos known as Jobu Tupaki is embodied in her troubled daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu).
Evelyn executes numerous martial arts moves which act as both a satire and tribute to Yeoh’s role in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
The action scenes are whimsical and energetic. And for those who want to see Jamie Lee Curtis as a monstrous curmudgeon, this is your chance.
Ke Huy Quan who moviegoers will remember as the mischievous charmer from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” is an adult now and he has never been better. His role as the well-meaning and empathetic husband has real heart. The warmth as well as a mature cuteness, (a carry-over from his child actor days) emanates from him.
While the combat scenes within the film’s running time might make the eyes glaze over just a bit, combined with a fight of dildos, not to mention hot dogs, the sheer whimsy is undeniable and it is clear a welcome fearlessness is in force.
This is not just a martial arts film. Evelyn has a very real concern of losing her daughter and her husband through divorce.
Though it doesn’t always hit the mark, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a sincere meditation on the interconnectedness of feelings and motivations. The outright silliness of the story is a playful ruse.
Hot Dog fingers portraying love? Anthropomorphic rocks in the Grand Canyon? Google-eyes symbolizing the third eye of Enlightenment? Why not?
Life itself is indeed quite silly and serious all at once.
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