Everything Everywhere All at Once

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)

Spider-Man: No Way Home

(This review is going to give away so many previously unknown secrets about the movie that it will be like Charlotte wove SPOILER into her web. Proceed accordingly.)

To prepare for this event, I watched seven of the previous nine Spider-Man films the weekend before I saw the new one. A good critic will do the work necessary to research a movie, gathering all the background information that will inform what they are about to see so their review will be accurate, well-thought out and aware of the history that brought the film to this exact place in the franchise. Plus, I am currently crushing hard on Andrew Garfield and wanted to see him in the Spidey suit again.

I’ve often wondered how critics can review Marvel films if they hate this genre of movie. That won’t be a problem here, as I have seen 26 of the total 27 films, including WandaVision and Loki on Disney+. (I have not watched HawkEye yet, because seriously, what is a guy with a bow and arrow doing in the Avengers?)

Marvel apparently wasn’t worried that combining all the villains and Spideys from all the Spider-Man movies might confuse people, and after bringing in over a billion dollars, it appears they were correct. It helps to have seen the earlier films just to keep track of the bad guys, but no one really cares once the three Peter Parkers show up. The first half of the movie is Dr. Strange opening a portal with a defective spell that frees all the bad guys from the first seven movies. I felt this was somewhat out of character for Stephen Strange to botch this whole escape from the multiverse, which is essentially a network of parallel universes that don’t usually overlap but has been corrupted by the time stones and . . . you know what, never mind. If you don’t know what the multiverse is, you are not the demographic for this movie.

It’s when the wrong Peter Parker steps through the golden portal that the movie really snares you in its web. I have seen YouTube videos of audiences leaping to their feet and screaming when the mask came off to reveal Andrew Garfield in the tight red suit instead of Tom Holland, who is the most recent Spider-Man. When the OG Spidey Tobey Maguire shows up, too, the director could have simply thrown away the script and let these guys just riff on great power and responsibility. The chemistry between the three actors is off the charts, and although there are also a lot of things exploding and getting zapped, the real electricity is between Peters One, Two and Three. 

This movie has made too much money for Marvel not to capitalize on this trio and figure out a way to bring them all back, but they had better hurry. Tobey Maguire is forty-six years old and that suit is not going to fit for much longer.

As a nod to the previous mission statement that formed flicksthatmakemesick, I was a tad worried that all that swinging from various tall buildings multiplied by three might bring back triple nausea, but rest assured that the camera work (or the CGI—I don’t believe there is a GoPro strapped to a stuntman’s head as he jumps off the Chrysler building) is as steady as Peter’s conviction that he is just a good guy helping out around the neighborhood and not a somehow invincible superhero who never seems to get hurt no matter how many times he is thrown through concrete.

Fun Fact Number One: if you made it all the way to the end, of course you know enough to stay in your seat for the extra scenes. The first one features Venom and a bartender who looked very familiar, but I couldn’t place him, until someone whispered, “Football is life!” Will Dani Rojas be joining the MCU?!

Fun Fact Number Two: all three Spider-Man actors have fallen in love with their leading ladies and dated long after the movies wrapped. Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst, Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone, and Tom Holland/Zendaya. The first two couples broke up. Sorry, Tom.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three Kernels. It is clever and fun and makes your spirits soar as high as you can shoot your web. Plus, Andrew Garfield.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksIWantTolick

Men in Black 3

According to the movies, there are many ways to travel through time. The first that comes to mind is your standard DeLorean ride with a variety of fuels such as plutonium or garbage. You can fly backwards and reverse the rotation of the planet, swish around in a hot tub with a topless Megan Draper or try to find an actual phone booth occupied by either Keanu Reeves or Dr. Who. If the film has some configuration of H.G. Wells in it, he’ll build his own time machine, but if you’re kind of lazy and can’t be bothered to explain how it’s done, just sit on a curb in Paris around midnight and you’ll end up hanging out with Gertrude Stein. I wish Ernest Hemingway had punched Woody Allen when he got back to 1920. Continue reading

Part I: Friends with Kids/Jeff Who Lives at Home

It’s tough to surprise an audience these days. Trailers supply most of the plot for upcoming films, and with the internet constantly buzzing and the thirst for information as powerful as a dog’s after chasing the Comcast installer that you’ve been waiting for from 10am to 2pm, the smallest details are ruthlessly bounced from site to site and tossed to the greedy public as if they were the raw meat meant for the ravenous dog that appeared at the beginning of this tortured metaphor. Continue reading

50/50

Tragedy is pretty cut and dry. It’s easy enough to agree that some things that happen in life will make you cry, although everyone has different weep thresholds. It may take cataclysmic natural disasters to squeeze a tear out of you, while just hearing Sarah McLachlan’s Angel on the radio makes me sob uncontrollably (those poor dogs!). But comedy is a bit more subjective. What I laugh at might confuse you; what you find hilarious would probably puzzle me and possibly make me want to move my chair a little further away. Continue reading

Contagion

Our Friend the Immune System is one classy act. When the waiter sticks his finger in your water glass right after picking his nose, it’s up to the old I.S. to stomp down those norovirus germs and keep you from sniffling. When you pluck a luscious melon wrapped in prosciutto from the appetizer bar at the wedding you attended where the bride was from Colorado but unfortunately so was the cantaloupe, you hope it will be ready to take on the Listeria that is sure to follow. But some things are bigger than Vitamin C and Purell, so when that bitch Gwyneth Paltrow cheats on her saintly husband Matt Damon on the way back from Hong Kong and infects the entire city with an unknown virus, you may as well just kiss your ass goodbye because this thing is going viral. Continue reading

Horrible Bosses

Watching a scene that is identifiable to your own life can often increase your understanding and enjoyment of a particular film.* For instance, if you are a boxer who has a strong bond with your seven weird sisters and one certifiable brother and you hope to make a comeback and have an HBO documentary made about you, you would probably find The Fighter deeply engrossing. Or if you’ve been in a situation where you ate a fortune cookie or pissed in a fountain with someone and then switched bodies, there are any number of movies that thoughtfully address this situation. Or say you saved a lot of Jews from the Nazis and your name is Schindler – I know just the film for you! Continue reading

Captain America 3D

It’s been a good summer for villains without noses. First we had the snakelike profile of Rafe Fiennes slithering through the frames of Harry Potter, and now Captain America has introduced us to the Red Skull, a tomato faced skeletor with nothing but a big old hole where the schnozz should be. I almost included Owen Wilson in this group, but he actually has a nose in Midnight in Paris. It’s just that it looks like a penis. But I digress. Continue reading

Hanna

Once upon a time, there was a fair young maiden who live in a tiny cabin deep in a snowy wood. The girl had eyes like star sapphires and long flowing locks, and she often wandered through the forest communing with nature. One day she came across a huge elk gracefully wading through the knee-high snow in a meadow. She paused to admire the carriage of this majestic animal, and as little blue birds sang above her head, pulled out a crossbow and dropped the beast with one arrow. Then she cocked an automatic pistol and drilled it in the head, just to be certain. If the Big Bad Wolf was watching this, he wet his pants and got the hell out of there, because this beauty owned the hood and this was certainly not Hoodwinked, Too. Continue reading

Water for Elephants

I try to live my life by the lyrics of Journey songs. I find they can be applied to almost any situation, and when Steve Perry’s golden soprano murmurs advice in my ear, I would be a fool not to listen. Just today, I heard him whisper Circus life under the big top world, we all need the clowns to make us laugh . . . Continue reading

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