“Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” is rated (R). It’s a science-fiction comedy movie starring Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn and Waymond, her husband, played by Ke Huy Quan—together, they operate a struggling laundry mat in America. When Evelyn discovers she has interdimensional powers, the film takes on several lives of its own.
The story begins by showing Evelyn, a Chinese American, at the end of her rope. She’s having a hard time accepting that her teenage daughter Joy’s (Stephanie Hsu) new relationship is with a girl (Tallie Medel), and her father (James Hong) is visiting from China; Evelyn is anxious to keep the truth about her daughter’s sexuality from him. The IRS is auditing the laundry mat, and the unfriendly agent Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) is not happy with Evelyn’s tax deductions. Why would anyone need a karaoke machine to run a laundry mat? Evelyn says it’s for her singing career. Waymond says, “She confuses her hobbies with business.”
Quickly we see that, sadly Evelyn’s big dream hasn’t turned out as she planned. Things go from bad to worse once she discovers Waymond is about to serve her with the divorce papers. As Evelyn is coping with her stressful moments in the IRS office, she experiences an interdimensional rupture that unravels reality. She’s thrown into a fight or flight situation, and she fights. The more she uses her instincts, the stronger her newfound powers become. Fairly quickly, she is battling in multi-universes to save her family and the balance of the world.
The alternate universes are shown as different paths in life people may have taken. Viewing the other universes does become a bit cloudy, yet the costuming and set designs fill in the gaps. Visually, the film is an actor’s dream role; to play so many different roles and personas’ in one film is the crème de la crème. Michelle Yeoh, a seasoned actor, looks like she’s having the time of her life, portraying so many different versions of her character.
The writers and directors, known as the Daniels, the duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, have constructed a creative film without excessive high-end graphics; Yeoh and the cast do all the heavy lifting, making this character-driven film a success.
Jamie Lee Curtis is almost unrecognizable as the cantankerous IRS agent; her interdimensional scenes are a reverse role from her “Halloween” films; she’s the stalker just as Mike Meyers garnering a machete. Curtis goes full-on stalker, leaving Evelyne no choice but to fight back with her wits and vibrato.
The heart of the story is an American dream scenario being questioned, only to find that family and sacrifice are worth the fight. I’d like to say that this film is one of the most creative films I’ve seen this year, and that going in, one needs to know it’s wacky, crass, and very odd.
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Sarah Knight Adamson© April 17, 2022