If Chaotic Good was a movie, it would be “Everything Everywhere All at Once” by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Starring on-screen powerhouses Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, A24’s new sci-fi action-comedy depicts one woman’s epic adventure across the multiverse to save her daughter. of a devouring bagel.
Produced in part by directors Anthony and Joseph Russo, known for films set in the Marvel Multiverse, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” combines the action-packed drama and grand proportions of modern superhero films with comedy. weird yet surprisingly tender surrealism that the Daniels (as the writer-director duo Kwan and Scheinert like to call themselves) have a knack for. Their 2016 film “Swiss Army Man” casts Daniel Radcliffe as an overly flatulent corpse, and their new title continues in the duo’s offbeat comedy tradition.
The film opens with chaos: Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), an overworked matriarch who runs a laundromat with her sweet, even-tempered husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), throws a Chinese New Year party for her customers. the same day the laundromat is audited by the IRS. Adding an extra load to Evelyn’s overstuffed washer – it had to be done – Evelyn’s demanding and traditional father, Gong Gong (James Hong) arrives from China, and his daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) wants to introduce her to her little one. friend at the party.
During an IRS meeting with formidable, mysterious bureaucrat Deirde (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn is introduced to the rules of the multiverse by an alternate-reality version of her husband, who urges Evelyn to help defeat the powerful but unstable Jobu. Tupaki, creator of a black hole bagel capable of destroying the multiverse. And so the adventure begins for Evelyn and the audience in a storyline whose strands are as complex and multiple as the number of alternate realities in the film. Suffice it to say, the Daniels Multiverse is crazy in ways only the creators of a sentient flatulent corpse could imagine. It parodies “Ratatouille” in a live-action raccoon version dreamed up by Evelyn, reverently mimicking scenes from Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love.” It features worlds where everyone has hot dogs for their fingers, and where Evelyn and her daughter Joy are dumb stones in a canyon talking to each other via Times New Roman typescript.
In every way, the film lives up to the expectations set by its title. It seems like every department of the production team was directed to operate with a maximalist sensibility. Filled with frenetic cinematography, cleverly and comedy choreographed fight scenes, jam-packed set design and wacky reference costumes, all of the film’s visual components converge into a dizzying yet sensational kaleidoscope that threatens to over-stimulate the senses. in the best possible way. Son Lux, an American experimental band, is the perfect choice to compose the film’s soundtrack. Watching and listening to “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the closest thing to a viewer in Willy Wonka’s candy store.
Michelle Yeoh gives an unsurprisingly dynamic performance as a cleverly comedic, realistically nagged, and ultimately loving motherly protagonist. Stephanie Hsu nails both the resigned helplessness of depressed Joy and the terrifying despair of nihilist Jobu Tupaki. Quan’s Waymond is remarkably resonant despite his character’s tendency to be used as the hippie “be nice” messenger for the most pessimistic female figures in his life. And let’s not forget the multiverse, which is just as much a character in the film as its inhabitants. What the Daniels uniquely manage to do in their latest film is to portray both the colorful wonders and the woeful betrayals of their multiverse. If every decision is a viable possibility manifested by the infinite number of alternate realities, then why does every decision matter? The film shrewdly reminds audiences that Jobu Tupaki’s destructive nihilism is just as much a product of the multiverse as the (intentionally misspelled) “Racacouille”.
However, distill the film to its purest element and what audiences get is a very simple and tender family drama. The genius of the film lies in its ability to follow a woman’s sense of individual loss – of her dreams, her ambitions, of herself – as it morphs into an exploration of her relationships with members of his family. The film begins as an exciting solitary/chosen journey in which Evelyn can fulfill her pretend fantasies in alternate realities. This turns, albeit a little too slowly, into her coming to terms with the fact that the very people who anchored her to the boredom of her grim reality at the laundromat are the ones enabling her fantastical journey through the multiverse. The film is Evelyn’s psyche visualized, tinted in a million brilliant colors and placed in a million brilliant settings, and it’s a truly magnificent moment where her psyche ends up back where it started: with Joy and Waymond in the parking lot of their laundromat. The emotional ending to the roller coaster ride that is “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” convinces viewers that being on the ground isn’t so bad after all.