Review: ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is a must-see

Photo courtesy of A24

When I came out of the theater after seeing “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” I practically ran to my car to shield myself from public view because I was crying so hard. Then, I cried basically the entire way back to my apartment. 

You never truly know what to expect when you go to see a film from A24. I certainly did not expect to like “Everything Everywhere All At Once” as much as I did (and I did not expect to cry as much as I did).

This movie’s official description from their website is, “a hilarious and big-hearted sci-fi action adventure about an exhausted Chinese American woman who can’t seem to finish her taxes.”

Props to whomever wrote that description because I certainly could not have summed it up so well. 

The film’s title “Everything Everywhere All At Once” describes the story, but also describes the experience of seeing the film. The film throws you into it very quickly, but it doesn’t feel rushed. That into-the-fire storytelling prepares the audience for ridiculous parts of the film, in a small way.

Everything, Everywhere All at Once
[Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Quan Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”]
Photo courtesy of A24

This film really skirts the line of overly ridiculous. That ridiculousness took me out of the film at times, but I think that was because I was not fully prepared for how ridiculous it was going to be. 

I expected the kind of straightforward and dry, wordplay-type comedy we’ve come to expect from action movies, but this film’s humor is much more about shock factor and slapstick. Although I didn’t love it all the time, I appreciated the humor because it’s definitely overlooked nowadays.

Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu all did an amazing job with the comedy and action within the film. However, it was Ke Huy Quan who really shined for his performance as the kind-hearted father, Waymond Wang. His character’s subtle influence really anchored the film, and Quan’s performance plays into that subtlety with a subtle performance.

The performances were all incredible, but the film’s action and themes are what made this film a cut above any other.

The action direction and fight choreography of the film was incredible. The fight choreographer for this film was Andy Le along with his brother Brian, and their work used the ridiculous nature of the film to take the fight scenes to new places. They used the environment within the scenes to not only show good action, but also tell the story. 

I’ve never felt so strongly that there should be Oscars for action direction, fight choreography and stunt work. 

However, the themes were what really hit me hard in this film (pun intended). Generational trauma and family acceptance was definitely at the top of the list for themes. What affected me the most (and made me cry for approximately the last 30 minutes of the film) was how it talked about meaninglessness and the power and kindness of people in our lives. 

In action films we are so used to seeing people or a specific monster or thing as the “bad guys,” but “Everything Everywhere All At Once” completely flips that expectation.

We are also used to seeing the hero of the film use their muscles to serve justice to the ones that are wrong, but this film also flips that expectation. Almost everything about the resolution of this film is not what you would expect. 

There’s a scene at the very end where Yeoh’s character sticks a googly-eye on her forehead and has, what we might call, a final stand-off with the “bad guy” and their cronies. The entire scene elevates the notion of “kill them with kindness,” and it demonstrates how the people in our lives make us better or worse if we listen to them. 

It also complicates the idea of a capital-T Truth to life. It says that just because there may not be some wider or “higher” reason for life does not mean it is not worth living. 

I’m not sure if the writers intended their movie to be a commentary on suicide, but that’s how I took it and that’s why I cried for so long and still cry when I think about it.

The film is a technical masterpiece, and there is something in the film for every person in the audience. Go see it.

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