I do not know how to write this review.
There is a lot to discuss about Everything Everywhere All at Once, but if I try to describe this film, it will come out as a garbled stream of references that will make no sense at all when taken out of context. They also make no sense when taken in context or when watched in the movie, but here are a few of them anyway: ChapStick snacking, dueling dildos, manipulative raccoons, hot dog fingers, stick-on googly eyes and an Everything bagel that may represent much more than a delicious carb.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is an apt title for a movie that combines time jumping, Kung Fu and the IRS. It feels like it jumped right through the wall of the multiplex into the theater where Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is playing, although the Marvel multiverses tend to be shinier with lots of sharp edges. (The multiverse is real, right? Because how else could there possibly be this many movies made lately about how life feels like we are splintering into tiny pieces and longing for a way to connect the dots, or to each other?) The various sites in EEAaO look like Mad Max:Thunderdome merged with the stuff ET built out of Eliot’s closet, which is pretty much what I suspect the future will look like, only with more rain.
The film is described as a science fiction comedy, but this is no Buckaroo Banzai. The real life segments of Michele Yeoh’s character Evelyn are so depressing that one can understand why her mind starts to splinter and the jumping into other versions of herself seem so appealing. She becomes a Kung-Fu expert, an opera diva and a movie star. In one of the funniest segments, she verse-jumps into the persona of a Benihana type cook, working along side another chef who has a raccoon under his toque that is manipulating his movements in a vaguely familiar way. You can’t help but wonder if the producers will be sued by Disney or if the internet will simply write another musical about it. There is also the aforementioned Everything bagel that is a black hole-ish type of metaphor that represents nihilism or depression or is a stand-in for the title of the film. Hard to be sure.
The cast is wonderful, full of actors who are vaguely familiar but will make you face palm when you realize who they are. Michele Yeoh has been famous and amazing since western audiences first saw her in Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; I knew I had seen Stephanie Hsu somewhere but it took me a minute to place her as Joel’s new flame, Mai, in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Jamie Lee Curtis is almost unrecognizable in a performance that is so lacking in vanity that she has become the face of the IRS to me now if I ever get audited. But the actor who totally stumped me was Ke Huy Quan, until I finally remembered him as the kid guide Short Round in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom! And Data in The Goonies! The guy has a sterling resume.
That the film’s ultimate message comes out clearly in the midst of all this chaos is quite an achievement. It verse-jumps through your emotions as quickly as Evelyn does personas. I found myself thinking that the words to describe this are similar to life as we have experienced it the past few years; unsteady, fractured, unexpectedly funny, terrifying, and as confusing as an IRS audit. Maybe we just need to stick some googly eyes on the scary parts and simply keeping holding on to each other.
The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film the score of One Perfect Popped Corn. This is the first movie that has received this ranking in the new flicksthatmakemesick system, and I will fight anyone who wants to try to talk me out of it. I found this film to be transcendent and have not stopped thinking about it since I saw it. Other people who have offered their opinions of “Yeah, I thought it was pretty good, too, but not really life-changing” are incorrect.
Categories: flicksthatyoushouldpick, FlicksThatHaveADick (two, actually, in latex)