“TAKE THE RIGHT PATH. PG 43”
“TAKE THE LEFT PATH. PG 24”
I am not sure if they are popular with kids anymore, but I remember a good chunk of my free time in elementary school was spent reading some of the “choose your own adventure” book series. The options would make or break the outcome of the mood I would feel all day, which sadly lead to some downer days (I always seemed to be lead to my doom of some kind with my choices). The idea of the choices we make is just one of many, many, many, many ingredients of the film Everything Everywhere at Once.
Praise God we live in the time of the internet, because I am not at all confident in knowing entirely what this film is about. We are immediately thrown into the hum drum life of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), who owns the local laundromat with her husband Waymond (former Goonie Ke Huy Quan). Her desk is besotted with receipts, surely symbolizing how many issues she feels she must be dealing with, whether it is coping with the fact that she has to tell her father (James Hong) that her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is gay or the constant bombardment she feels from an IRS inspector (a brilliant Jamie Lee Curtis).
Then…well, chaos ensues. Evelyn finds out that there is a different version of her husband from another universe, the Alpha Universe. The multiverse (at least here, before we get the next Dr. Strange film in less than a month) is formed because of every choice made. Every choice. The outcomes of those choices result in more universes that one could count. According to her husband in the Alpha verse, all of the multiverse is at risk of obliteration by the hands of Jobu Tupaki, the Alpha version of Evelyn’s daughter who has become too powerful and nihilistic. Only this Evelyn can defeat Jobu because she is the greatest failures of all the Evelyns.
Okay, that is it. I refuse to go more into the plot. This is not because I am lazy, but because this is definitely a film you need to go in seeing with virtually no foreknowledge. There are moments in this film where you will be blinking in disbelief, and that is meant as a compliment. The moments are so bizarre, insane, nonsensical, and ludicrous, that they truly most be seen to believe. Some of these include (but not at all limited to) fanny pack fighting, using genitalia as weaponry, a unique interpretation of the Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille, an epic bagel, and so much more.
Parents, the movie is not the hardest of R ratings, but it is clearly not for kids. There are many uses of swearing (multiple F bombs), some strong violence, and a lot of sexual references (nothing shown). High School and above (if they can understand it).
Now to the filmmakers. Admittedly, I haven’t heard of Dan Kwan or Daniel Scheinert before this film (they go by “Daniels”). There only other film before this was 2016’s Swiss Army Man (unseen by me, but not for long), and done work with music videos (including DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s 2013 hit Turn Down for What). With Everything Everywhere at Once, clearly the best film of the early year so far, they have rekindled my hope that originality in films has not vanished from the face of the earth. I legit cannot remember the last time I heard a fellow audience member say “I can’t breathe”, and I knew the feeling.
I imagine everyone viewer of this film will leave it like I did: googly eyed.