Everything Everywhere All At Once concluded at SXSW and this reviewer was exhausted, emotional, and mindblown all at once. There are no easy ways to explain the insanity of this film and the directions it will take viewers.
Upon the ending, the thought of “Who would make such an ambitious work and how the hell did they come up with this idea?” kept swirling like a tornado in this writer’s mind. And then someone mentioned, “from the directors of Swiss Army Man.”
Here there are no farting corpses but Everything Everywhere All At Once is inspired originality cranked up to eleven.
Here is our Everything Everywhere All At Once review which opened the film festival at SXSW 2022.
Everything Everywhere All At Once review
The film centers on Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, a wife, and mother who is caught up in a cyclone of drama in her present universe. Evelyn and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) are being audited by the IRS, her daughter Eleanor (Stephanie Hsu) has come out as gay, and Evelyn’s father Gong Gong (James Hong) is of a different generation that is unaccepting of the LGBTQ community. So Evelyn hides the truth from her father.
And as she goes through the motions of an incredibly daunting day, strange things begin to happen with her husband Waymond. His personality changes and he explains to her that he is her husband from the Alpha-verse. Meanwhile. as this confusing version of Waymond keeps possessing her actual husband, her family is preparing to meet with a bitter grumpy cat expressioned auditor named Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis).
And as she becomes overwhelmed by everything all at once, her Alpha-verse husband reappears more and more, slaps Bluetooth earphones on her, and makes her do strange cringeworthy acts — papercuts, eating boogers, etc.– to trigger multiverse jumps to alternate versions of herself.
From here, we learn that the Alpha-verse jumpers face a threat known as Jobu Tupaki. And that alternate versions of IRS grump Deirdre are fierce, physically overpowering, and menacing — think Agent Smith from The Matrix but in a grandma outfit.
Bear in mind, this is just the first twenty minutes of an already mind-numbing setup. And when viewers think it has reached peak insanity, then it evolves further into madness.
Everything Everywhere All At Once might be slightly long clocking in around 146 minutes. But the first 90 minutes of this movie will not be topped in 2022.
Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (also known as The Daniels) create some of the most inspired action scenes that apply humor, heart, and storytelling that one might see. Furthermore, the core story — when Evelyn is not jumping from universe to universe — all takes place inside of an IRS building as the fights get inventive with unexpected props — such as company awards in the shape of sex toys… and then actual sex toys.
At the SXSW premiere, Dan Kwan revealed that he discovered he had been living with undiagnosed ADHD for years, and developing this project made him realize this mental health issue. And this reviewer has to say, it clearly shows in the writing.
The frantic escalation of each story beat conveys that Kwan was exorcising some emotional demons through Evelyn, and as the film takes a final lap in the third act, it is an exercise that is shockingly heartfelt.
It should also be noted that this movie deserves all the awards for editing. Movies live and die in the editing room and The Daniels made a script that required someone who was ready to rise to the occasion. Needless to say, Paul Rogers’ work here delivers on every front.
This movie is just indescribable. It is the bravest film put in theaters in a long time. It’s an action movie, science-fiction movie, a comedy, a drama, a martial-arts epic, a horror movie, and probably new genres we have not said before. To put it simply, Everything All At Once is a miracle of modern moviemaking.
At the end of the screening, the audience at SXSW gave the film a very long standing ovation. And The Daniels deserved every second of the applause.
Should you watch Everything Everywhere All At Once?
The answer is a strong enthusiastic yes. For years, people have claimed originality is dead. Well, Everything Everywhere All At Once is right here for consumption and it deserves to be rewarded.
We are still early in 2022 but the bar is set high. All movies going forward have a standard to match and Everything Everywhere All At Once is that standard.
Readers wanting more SXSW 2022 coverage can read our reviews of Spin Me Round and The Prank.
Everything Everywhere All At Once will release through A24 on March 25.