Wednesday, April 6, 2022

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

Michelle Yeoh     Stephanie Hsu     Ke Huy Quan

James Hong     Jamie Lee Curtis     Jenny Slate

            Everything can happen everywhere in a cartoon, and this is the wackiest one ever done.   Real people are acting out in a way that is only seen in cartoons doing impossible feats.  It’s funny at times, insightful or mysterious at other times and often confusing.  More than a few critics plan to see it at least one more time to pick up on things missed in the first viewing.

            The story is about a Chinese-American family with tax woes.  They run a laundry, but the mother Evelyn (Yeoh) is a Jack/Jill of all trades, so they have other businesses as well.  It’s a bickering family with the mother way too stressed and often harping at family members, consisting of her husband Waymond (Quan), daughter Joy (Hsu), and her dear old father Gong Gong (Hong)—who must be pleased at all costs.  Waymond has just informed Evelyn that he is thinking about divorce.

            Before the family’s visiting IRS agent Deirdre (Curtis), Waymond starts acting strange and pulling Evelyn into an other-universe reality, which is not only confusing for her, but to us the viewers as well.  Then the script changes drastically at the IRS.  We’re switched to the broader world of multiverses.  Waymond transverses between himself and someone from the alpha universe.  He seems to have some awareness of what is going on and tries to counsel his wife, telling her she has abilities of which she is completely unaware and needs to develop.  This is very different from his usual persona, and she is thoroughly mixed up, not even recognizing herself and the feats she can suddenly perform.  This switching around happens to everyone.

            It’s almost impossible to describe, certainly without giving too much away.  The more na├»ve one is about the plot, the more delightful the surprise.  And it’s not all fun and games, some serious work is accomplished both in the husband/wife relationship and in the mother/daughter relationship, and ultimately there is even a certain amount of understanding achieved between Evelyn and Dierdre who have been antagonistic to one another throughout.  

            Michelle Yeoh is a wonder here, richly deserving of her centerpiece place in a film after accruing so many accolades in supporting roles.  She has had an impressive journey.  From emigrating from Malasia to the UK, training for ballet, getting a part with Jackie Chan that eased her way into action movies, serious injuries from doing her own stunts, and gaps in her career.  But at 60, she finally has a starring role that proves once again her talent and skill in acting.  Joining her in fine performances are Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and James Hong.  Jamie Lee Curtis shines in her portrayal of a cheeky IRS agent, in which she is almost unrecognizable.  Slate’s cameo role is very effective as well.

            The Daniels (Kwan and Scheinert) prove their merit in writing and directing this unusual production which pulls the viewer so neatly into altered realities and then  selecting a cast that fits seamlessly into their characters.  

            Everything Everywhere All at Once is clearly a landmark in moviemaking, both in action and in comedy films.  Sprinkled throughout are little witticisms such as, “What is the truth?...Nothing matters”, “You’re living the worst you”, a bagel representing a halo, a raccoon perched atop a chef’s toque, and perhaps the best of all:  wiener fingers.

 

As a testament to the movie’s relevancy, Michelle Kwan says, [nowadays] “I think all of us feel like we [are] everything everywhere all at once.”

 

Grade:  A                              By Donna R. Copeland



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