Note: this review will do its best to avoid spoilers. Please use the spoiler space to discuss this movie without fear of spoiling anything for potential first-time viewers:
Most movies fit into fairly well-defined genres. There is plenty of room for flexibility within those genres, but a single descriptor gives potential viewers a fair idea of what to expect. There is a certain degree of entertainment provided, and in some cases, an experience that transcends the tropes and trappings one might expect. In a few instances, a movie becomes a legitimate cultural phenomenon, making its way into our news broadcasts, our memes, the fabric of our lives.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is likely far too niche to become a phenomenon, but it definitely qualifies as an experience as much as entertainment. It has familiar elements, but the whole of its being is a wild, unrestrained ride. I would describe the composition of this movie as follows:
25% Chinese-American family drama
30% The Matrix
10% Mad Libs
35% improv comedy troupe that takes suggestions from an open-bar audience
Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Quan Wang, a mother and laundromat owner struggling in both her professional and personal lives. To say much more would be to spoil the plot, but suffice to say, her dilemmas are addressed over the course of the film’s 140 minutes. The production is sound: there is a small but outstanding cast, and its continuity is equally adept. It is nothing short of a visual feast, maybe the most visually spectacular film since Into the Spider-Verse.
The film is extremely busy, loud at times, but also quiet and introspective at others. Speaking personally, its 140 minute run time went by extremely quickly; the movie is very engaging and fast-paced. There are few good opportunities for bathroom breaks, which is both a blessing and a curse.
Overall, enjoyment of this film may be subjective, but its execution is undeniable. The post-viewing questions are less about whether this qualifies as a good movie or not, and more about how it compares against other films. It probably goes without saying that this is an A24 movie, which naturally invites comparisons against the company’s other successes. Count the reviewer as an A24 fan, and an appreciator of its various horror films. But Everything is not a horror film, or quite like anything else. What it is, though, is spectacular, a roller coaster worth experiencing for yourself, and a film that will compare favorably to anything else released this year.
This movie was directed by Daniels (Kwan and Schoenert), who were responsible for 2016’s Swiss Army Man, which you also know as Farting Boner Corpse: The Movie. I did not know this going in, but cannot say I’m surprised, either.
Previews included Bullet Train, Thor: Love and Thunder. Thankfully we planned ahead and showed up 10 minutes after the scheduled start time, which still left 10-15 minutes of previews.