“A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have […]
“A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.”
Directors: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert Writers: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert Staring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jenny Slate Rated: R Release Date: April 8, 2022 IMDB
How the hell do you explain Everything Everywhere All At Once (2023)? It is a science fiction, Kung-Fu, family drama, romantic comedy multidimensional adventure on cocaine? Like whatever you think you are getting into, just crank it up another notch and hope you are prepared for it?
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is a very busy women who has zero time to sit still. She runs a laundromat with her very dutiful but divorce-seeking husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan), and together they are parenting their gay acceptance-seeking daughter Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu). Evelyn is so bogged down with the taxes of paperwork that she doesn’t take the time to try and empathize with her daughter, who is doing her best to introduce her girlfriend Becky Sregor (Tallie Medel) into her life and her conservative family. Adding onto her own family troubles, Evelyn has a tumultuous relationship with her own father Gong Gong (James Hong), whose relationships during his own parentage are having ripple effects in her present day.
The story begins its million twists when Evelyn is told by a Waymond Wang from a different universe that she is the key to potentially stopping the Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu). Turns out there are an infinite parallel realities and in order to try and understand the improbability of the impossible, Evelyn has to be willing to take a leap of faith and understanding she has never taken before. Can she untap her own potential, stop the black hole of the everything bagel, and come to an understanding with the very spiteful Jobu Tupaki? Put on your communicator and strap in because you are for sure going to get whiplash.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (which I will be referring to as EEAAO) is a really fucking weird movie. It has dimensional universes with people who have hot dog fingers and need to operate with their feet. It has fantastical martial arts, cooking racoons, mind control, endless costume changes, world swallowing bagels, talking rocks, heart-to-heart mother-daughter conversations and a god-like antagonist with teenage angst. All of that is blended into different genres.
There is a fuck ton happening in EEAAO.
There is too much happening in EEAAO.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is combining everything that culture is fascinated with in the moment. There is a multidimensional journey which is all the rage among the main stream movie theater going experience. There is the struggling parent trying to accept what the world is becoming, which is catnip for older movie watchers who need something tangible to latch on. There is a young gay adult trying to find acceptance in the her small community while also trying to find her calling in the larger universe, which is a drug overdose for many of the younger streaming demographic. If you don’t want to think too much about the deeper aspects of EEAAO, there are comedic gags and some highly choregraphed fights to tickle a possibly stoned and simple mind.
Directors and writers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert created a world that does not stop spinning. Just when you are getting used to a certain vibe, a wheelchair ridden grandfather will come in and smash a character through a wall in full slow motion glory. Kwan and Scheinert have written a world where it’s gravitational pull is so strong that you have zero chance of pulling out once you see Jamie Lee Curtis hop up onto a table and turn into a demented version of Gollum.
This is why EEAAO is not the religious experience for me that it is for so many other people. EEAAO is an anime adventure without the animation, combined with The Matrix (1999) on acid and the sorry of Beautiful Boy (2018). Watching EEAAO was like a waterboarding of sensory overload for me. It was too much for me. There was too much imagination for me. I wanted to get a grasp on how Evelyn and Joy’s relationship has changed, but suddenly we are swooshed to weird-as-fuck medieval times theology studies dome. I need time to breath! Let me come up for air!
Everything Everywhere All At Once does combine all of its crazy aspects into a coherent and pretty-looking story, but I am asking the question…is this a good thing? Do we need everything that we want? Perhaps we should just focus on one thing well instead of skipping like hopscotch to the next topic like a hopped up ADD-ridden toad.
Alright Stanko, take a breath. That was a lot of unloading there. Stream of consciousness took over.
Despite my lack of immense enjoyment watching EEAAO, it is impossible to not appreciate how effective this ballsy project was made. The multidimensional travels are edited incredibly well. The action is well choregraphed (I will never see a fanny pack the same). The costumes are all over the place. The makeup on Jobu should make Tik Tok self-improvement stars green with envy. Everything Everywhere All At Once is an incredibly well crafted visual experience. It has stamps of excellence all around it.
Michelle Yeoh. Absolute legend. No bones about it. A kung-fu action star legend, but also a damn good actress. In 2000 she helped carry Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) to its four Oscars. She can fly on trees and make it look majestic as all hell, but she can also be a rich judging asshole in Crazy Rich Asians (2018). Yeoh has had the appreciation for years, but EEAAO pushed her status from “respected” to “revered”. There is an incredibly strong campaign to get Yeoh a career Oscar for her effort in this movie. Even Cate Blanchett is praising Yeoh when accepting awards for her own accomplishments in Tár(2022).
I am here to see that Yeoh is nowhere near close to Blanchett when it comes to comparing both performances. I wouldn’t even put Yeoh in my personal top-five for the year. She sits in the next tier. The tier of very good, but not good enough. The movie revolves around her being confused for a large portion of time, and Yeoh is really good when it comes to the slo-mo WTF is happening face. She can do the action scenes, zero problem. Never a doubt there.
The part about her performance that I can’t stop getting the heebeegeebees about are the more emotional scenes. Yeoh is never the best part of those scenes. Ke Huy Quan rises to the occasion playing the conflicted husband seeking appreciation. Stephanie Hsu gets to play the desperate for acceptance daughter and even Jamie Lee Curtis gets to be a auditor multiplied to the tenth degree. Yeoh is like the point guard dishing out great setups for her fellow performers…while also dishing out kicks, punches and body slams when necessary.
There is a skill to this. No doubt. It all simmers wonderfully, but she is never the one to cause emotions and excitement to boil over.
Here is a hot take. I love Jamie Lee Curtis, but I do not think that she deserves awards attention for her part as Deirdre Beaubeidre. Is that blasphemy? It stems from the part of me that enjoyed the quiet moments of EEAAO more so than the crazy out-of-this-world moments. The quietest scenes involving Beaubeidre come when she and Evelyn have hot dog fingers, which I already mentioned took my out of the movie as a whole. Again, keeping up with my totally subjective personal take on a culturally beloved movie, I also just can’t ignore the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis had a stunt-double or immense CGI doing all of the action sequences.
The biggest revelation from an acting standpoint from EEAAO is Ke Huy Quan playing the part of Waymond Wang. Be honest. Who knew the career story of Ke Huy Quan? I didn’t. I knew him from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984) and The Goonies (1985), but after that, I have zero clue regarding his career swap to stunt coordinator. EEAAO is only his second acting credit since 2002, but but a 20 year hiatus did fantastic for the man.
Huy Quan gives the the best performance of the movie. The conversation between Evelyn and Waymond in the universe where she became a famous Hollywood Star is my favorite scene of the entire movie. That sequence is a real conversation and one that is relatable to anyone if they have ever put work before everything else. In a movie were dildos are shoved up butts during kung-fun matches, there are still scenes like this one that remind you it all isn’t about everything bagels and unlimited multiverses.
Everything Everywhere All At Once has the most Oscar nominations of any movie at the 2023 Academy Awards. The Kwan & Scheinert project earned 11 nominations; Original Screenplay, Original Score, Original Song, Best Picture, Directing, Actress, Supporting Actress (2x), Supporting Actor, Costume Design, and Film Editing.
For me, myself, and I, I have Everything Everywhere All At Once with four Oscar nominations. From the movies I have seen, chalk it up for Best Original Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, and Best Supporting. Stanko’s Stance is that it earns one win for Film Editing.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is streaming on Showtime.
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