Watchable Minutes: Every. Single. One
- Run time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes
- Studio: A24
- Director: Daniels
- Where to Watch: In Theaters (If you can find it)
Evelyn Wang is struggling to keep it all together. Her failing laundromat is being audited by the IRS, her husband has given her divorce papers, her daughter feels misunderstood, and her father is as judgemental as always. All of this changes when Evelyn goes to the IRS to present her tax documents and is suddenly exposed to the many universes that exist everywhere all at once. A great evil is ripping the realms of reality to shreds and the alpha version of her husband Waymond is desperate to find the one Evelyn that can defeat it.
Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels) are two of the best and brightest director duos working today. Ever since their insanely popular music video days (remember this?) they have displayed an almost disdain for normalcy and embrace the weird. Take Swiss Army Man for example. One of my earliest reviews on the site, it still holds up and arguably deserves a better score than what I gave it last year. The absurdity and weirdness from their 2016 hit are thriving as they continue to make even more extreme and insane movies about feelings and passions that every human struggles with every day.
Evelyn is so bogged down by all the failures and what-ifs that her life has been subject to that she can no longer feel happy or focus on anything in her life. Her business is being audited because of her odd receipts and tax write-offs. Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) has served her divorce papers. And Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is trying to bring her girlfriend to the party they are throwing for her old school and traditional father. There is simply too much going on and it is tearing her apart from the inside out. After alienating her daughter for the latest time, Evelyn prepares for the worst at their audit appointment. Waymond starts acting strangely on their way there. He places two Bluetooth headsets on her ears and starts telling her to follow these odd directions he has written down on the back of their divorce papers and that he will not remember having this conversation because he is from a separate reality. Evelyn is flabbergasted and can’t understand the sudden bravado and spine her husband just displayed for a split second but the audit is too important to screw around with things like this. However, as the audit is being done by IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn begins to follow the strange instructions on the papers. As she does this, she is transported to a nearby supply closet where Alpha-Waymond tells her a fantastic story about how the multiverse is real and there are many universes out there that are host to realities where even the most minuscule decisions have far-reaching implications for everyone. But Alpha-Waymond is not here just to say hello to an alternate version of his wife. It is because a terrible force known as Jobu Topacki is slowly annihilating all the other universes and the key to stopping her is finding the right Evelyn.
As Evelyn tries to make sense of this supposed nonsense, the reality she is accustomed to begins to change as Waymond displays uncanny martial arts skills and dispatches several security guards with ease before reverting back to his normal self. As Evelyn and Alpha-Waymond attempt to flee the IRS building, she begins to verse-jump, which is a technique pioneered by the late Alpha-Evelyn. It allows somebody to borrow skills and talents from alternate versions of themselves by creating a direct path to that reality with an incredibly random and sometimes painful action. While verse-jumping is the tool that will save the universe, it is also because of Alpha-Evelyn that Jobu Topacki exists. Now Evelyn must deal with the consequences of her alternate failures and decisions in order to save the multiverse and preserve her relationships with her family. Evelyn and her family are transported through insanely different, realistic, and outlandish situations for the majority of the run time with laughs and heartbreak pulling on the audience’s emotions until the very end.
Everything Everywhere All at Once takes advantage of an incredible cast to tell this incredible story. Michelle Yeoh is a Hollywood legend. From Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Tomorrow Never Dies and Crazy Rich Asians, she has done it all with style. Evelyn Wang feels as if it was pitched to be like the next big challenge for her and she knocked it out of the park. Her charisma and unapologetic realism contrast nicely with Ke Huy Quan’s Waymond. Quan is sweet and looks for the best in every single person he meets, which to somebody like Evelyn makes him seem weak but it is truly his greatest strength. Most people will probably be familiar with him as his filmography most notably consists of Short Round from Temple of Doom and Data from The Goonies. While Quan has been absent from Hollywood for almost 20 years, Waymond is a perfect return to the silver screen. Supporting Yeoh and Quan are the ever-dynamic Jamie Lee Curtis and newcomer Stephanie Hsu. Jamie Lee Curtis is another Hollywood icon, with work going back almost 40 years. Deirdre is easy to dislike but as the movie goes on, her own miniature arc redeems the character. Lastly, Stephanie Hsu as Joy is angsty and angry and everything a misunderstood young adult feels wrapped into one person. She craves approval from her mother but also wants acceptance to be herself. Everybody with even a second of screen time dives all the way into the weirdness and put together a magnificent story. The willingness of the cast to go do something weird like this is great for their filmography and for the industry as a whole. Movies like this can live and die by their cast and crew and having two superstars like Yeoh and Lee join this movie opens the door for more just like it.
It’s still too early to say that any movie should be the movie of the year or the most fun I’ve had in a theater yet, but Everything Everywhere All at Once makes a pretty damn good case for both of those titles as an early springtime release. Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis put on a magnificent performance throughout the entire 140-minute runtime, and the limitless creativity by Daniels makes it an absolute blast to see. If you can find a theater that will show it, don’t waste any time getting to the box office to get your tickets. This is a must-see event and the type of movie that only comes around once every few years.