EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE *****
Directed by Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan.
Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong.
Science-Fiction, US, 139 minutes, certificate 15.
Released in the UK in cinemas 13th May by A24
Typical, isn’t it? You wait ages for a movie about the multiverse then three turn up on top of each other. After SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME brought the concept to a massive audience, Marvel hired Sam Raimi to send Dr Strange through various realities in THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Now, just one week later, UK audiences finally get to see what all the fuss is about regarding the surprising US box office success of EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, an endlessly inventive and ambitious film that delves far deeper into the concept of parallel realities than any mega-budget blockbuster could ever dare to go.
Michelle Yeoh plays laundry owner Evelyn Wang, husband to Waymond and mother of Joy. Evelyn does not realise the estrangement her family feels from her, mainly due to a massive IRS audit brought about by Jamie Lee Curtis’s fearsome tax inspector. During this meeting which could decide her family’s future, Evelyn learns from an unusually focused Waymond that he has travelled across the multiverse to find her as she is the only version of the limitless Evelyn’s across the vast multiverse who can defeat a dark entity known as Jobu Tupaki that could bring the whole system down. Able to tap into the unlimited number of skillsets that every single Evelyn possesses, this particular Evelyn tries to defeat this nihilistic being whilst trying to save her own family and sort out her own tax problems in time for a Chinese New Year party at the laundromat for her visiting elderly father.
This is just a bare bones premise. To say anymore would spoil the huge number of surprising turns this film takes. As the alternative Waymond, or Alpha Waymond as he calls himself,explains every possible decision everyone makes creates a new universe so the storytelling possibilities are endless. Where previous multiverse films use this conceit to do little more than dole out surprise cameos, the writing and directing duo of Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan delight in creating a vast medley of scenarios that are as inventive as they are ridiculous. Hot dog fingers, a universe where Evelyn finds fame as an action movie star filmed like a lush Wong Kar-wai drama and one that RATATOUILLIE fans will delight in are just a small number of the many universes we bear witness to here. The result feels like a delirious mix of high-concept action cinema, Douglas Adams and sentimental yet beautifully realised family drama.
The inventive script and kaleidoscopic direction are a joy to behold and they are superbly complimented by a fantastic cast. One of cinemas greatest pleasures is watching Michelle Yeoh kick ass, which she gets to do multiple times here, but she also offers a deeply sympathetic and heartfelt performance that will go down as one of this years best. Even more surprising is Ke Huy Quan’s return to the screen after a decades long absence. Familiar to viewers of a certain age for his mid-80’s performances as Short Round and Data from INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and THE GOONIES, before moving behind the scenes to fight and stunt choreography, Quan’s performance of multiple Waymonds is funny and emotional while also proving his action skills in one scene that is the equal of any golden age Hong Kong martial arts flick.
Dazzling, ridiculous, touching and hilarious EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE offers a lot of bang for your buck. At two hours and twenty minutes it is a lot of movie that offers something new with every single scene. Googly eyes, sentient rocks and buttplug awards are just a few of the seemingly disparate elements that are on offer here alongside a deeply emotional story full of hope. Original, exciting, funny and sad it is a next level step up for its directors after the promise of SWISS ARMY MAN and Scheinhert’s disappointing THE DEATH OF DICK LONG. Just when you think you think there is nothing else that can be done with todays mainstream cinema, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE proves that an original idea executed as strongly as this can strike a chord with a vast number of people with its deeply felt look at hope versus nihilism. What it looks like in any other universe is anyone’s guess but it looks like we might have the very best one right here.