Review: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ offers maximalist madness

As earnest and endurance-testing as the title suggests, the latest film from the Daniels sees their maximalism reach new heights.


“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s new film starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu. (Image courtesy of Cinetic Media)

Sebastian Zufelt, Staff Writer

Directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known together as the Daniels, turned down the opportunity to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe by directing the show “Loki” to instead make “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” While some might say this was a foolhardy move on their part, the end product of their decision should ease such doubts. Rather than join the monotonous slew of Marvel products, the Daniels have crafted their own high-concept, multiverse story — one which retains their unique sensibilities and has a sincere emotional core. 

Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is a middle-aged laundromat owner in a midlife crisis, of sorts. It seems her life has taken all the wrong turns. Her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), is a bit of a goof, her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) hates her and she’s being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. When she goes to her audit meeting, however, her husband snaps into the role of an action star she doesn’t even recognize, and informs her about the multiverse — how the life she is living is one of many Evelyns who have taken various turns in life. On top of this shattering revelation, he also informs her that the multiverse as a whole is under threat by an all-powerful Jobu Tupaki (also played by Stephanie Hsu), whom Waymond believes is coming for her. 

The rest of the film follows Evelyn and Waymond as they try to escape the IRS building, which is slowly being invaded by Jobu’s agents. Action-heavy, the film’s choreography and coverage of fight scenes is visually imaginative and incredibly refreshing in comparison to Marvel’s green screen sets. It is tinged with the Daniels’ sense of humor and reminiscent of viral YouTube sketches from the first days of the platform. The contrast between high-concept elements and simple ones runs throughout the film.

Michelle Yeoh walks through a hallway surrounded by falling pink, yellow and blue confetti. She has pink hair and wears a white bedazzled jumpsuit.
Stephanie Hsu plays the role of Jobu Tupaki in the movie ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’. (Image courtesy of Cinetic Media)

Clocking in at almost 2 ½ hours, the film consistently offers refreshing ideas to viewers. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see filmmakers with such a unique and ambitious vision give so much time to develop their worlds. On the other, if the film were a tad shorter, it might have hit even stronger, as the end of the second act feels quite long.

As a result of setting up so many different universes, the film has to cross cut between them with semi-equal weight. The primary world where Evelyn is having a heart to heart with her daughter is juxtaposed with the world where Evelyn helps a chef rescue his “Ratatouille” Raccoon. The emotional relevance of the heart to heart is spread out efficiently between the other universes.

There’s still plenty of sincerity to the film that works well. The scene where Evelyn’s love for her husband is rekindled is the best moment in the film. Through cutting between universes and the use of light on Waymond’s face, we see the whirlwind of emotions Evelyn has for him. Her embracing of the version of him in her world speaks to the heart of the film’s message.

Through fighting to save all these universes, Evelyn learns to get out of her head and to stop thinking about where her life could have gone, instead embracing what she has with all her heart. These other lives coming into her world and trying to take her down symbolize the destructive power of comparing and despairing about the different paths you, the viewer, could have taken in your life. The best thing to do is embrace what you already have, because it’s all you’ve got.

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