I can be a simple man sometimes. I see a movie with Michelle Yeoh, and I know I want to see it. The woman has been a cinematic, and martial arts, powerhouse for 30 years and so underutilized in American cinema. So when I heard she is in a quirky sci-fi film about different universes, directed by the guys that made Swiss Army Man, I was very excited. And then I saw the trailer and the poster art, and I WAS TOTALLY SOLD. Look, I’m a sucker for weird and dynamic, and vibrant. But could the film really live up to me already loving so much of it before I saw it? Oh, I’m so excited to tell you about this one my friends.
Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, a mother to a 20 something daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), married to a quiet and seemingly meek husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) who she runs their laundromat with. She is preparing for her formerly estranged father Gong Gong (James Hong)’s birthday, as well as an IRS audit they are under. When she gets to the IRS building to meet with their auditor Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), her husband seems to have a complete personality change and give her some glowing bluetooth headsets, and tells her to act normal. What follows is a journey between dimensions to find out that she may be the key to stopping a warlord, Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu again) from enslaving the multiverse and making their Everything Bagel wormhole seemingly absorb it all. It devolves into progressively more madness from there as Evelyn needs to basically do the most unlikely things possible to unlock the knowledge and strengths of her other selves in other dimensions.
Let me stop there and just tell you that without a doubt this movie is mad and brilliant, and you’re better off not trying to make sense of the above before you see it. Because the visuals, and the way the film presents all of this is how it succeeds and it does it so very, very well. I can’t overstate that to you because it is an absolute joy and one of the most approachable crazy films I’ve seen, and it just all fits. It makes for a story that is so ridiculous, and so ridiculously heartfelt and emotional too.
Oh, did I surprise you with that turn there? Well, I was almost as surprised too when this film had me breaking down to tear at least twice as it came to those moments that it earned the whole film. And its not just me, just about every critic I spoke with expressed the same, and I’m admittedly going through some stuff that the heart of this movie just spoke to and broke. Its all about acceptance of yourself, and of those you love in spite of, if not for, their faults. And how it gets you there is just such a brilliant and engaging ride that you can’t help but keep enamored. It is beautiful, wild, and action packed with Yeoh and others performing masterful martial arts that is perfectly shot to enjoy all the action. Even going in with high hopes for this weirdness, the way it fires on all cylinders really just had me so in love with it. I honestly have to stop there at such a broad description because it feels like to spoil any more of the weird and wonderful world is a crime.
So with that, let me just praise the cast. Yeoh is the center of the movie and just continues to wow after all these years. She doesn’t miss a step in the acting, nor in the martial arts, and is such a joy as she calls out the film’s absurdity. It is also so lovely to see Ke Huy Quan back on the screen, and he plays the various forms of Waymond with applomb and so much heart that its amazing to think we haven’t seen him really since Encino Man. And the legendary James Hong doesn’t get to do quite as much as he deserves, but into his 90s he isn’t missing a beat either and so nice to see. But the big wonderful surprises are Curtis and Hsu. Curtis is always great, don’t get me wrong, but seeing them here in something so different is great. They asked to be not made to look glamourous and show off their body at their age, and all of the sagging that happens. And yet they pull of some large fighting scenes and action, as well as one of the oddest romance scenes in a movie of the last decade, and just showcases the range we’ve known she’s had for decades. I just love to see it. But Hsu is new to the scene, and so damn good here. Her role was meant to go to Awkwafina initially, but she was busy, and Hsu honestly might do it better than Awkwafina could’ve. She grounds her character of Joy very well, and then can equally can go so large as Jobu when the film needs its villain at full force. I honestly can’t wait to see what they do next because this performance is so much a heart of the film and really never falters. So many wonderful performances.
I’m about as shocked as anyone that this is the 2nd movie this year I’m giving 10 out of 10, that is an absolute rarity in any year. But dear god does this film earn it. While The Northman is the art film lover’s movie through and through, and masterful, Everything Everywhere All At Once is just the most bonkers and brilliant thing I’ve seen. It might be the most crazy movie I’ve seen since Sorry to Bother You, but it guides you into the craziness more smoothly and with more love and care. And it just crushes it on the crazy. But that amazing amount of heart that it surprises you with is what sealed the deal. It is a movie and a message I really needed, and I think so many people do to and I want it to make all the money so we get more from this amazing cast, and more brilliantly weird films like this.