Movie Review: Everything Everywhere All at Once

The mind-bending, genre-hopping action flick is nearly impossible to describe — but it's an excellent, essential movie.


Reviewing “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is, as far as I can tell, an exercise in absurdity. If the point of a movie review is to tell you whether or not you should see the film: Yes, you should. Without question.

If the point of a review is to explain what the movie is, at its core? Well, that can’t be done, as the uncanny scenes of “Everything Everywhere” will mean different things to different viewers. 

Other, more highfalutin reviews consider a film as a work of art; “Everything Everywhere” defies that approach as well, creating a frenetic, kaleidoscopic wall of input that cannot possibly be distilled into a theoretical analysis.

Am I supposed to just tell you the broad strokes of the plot? Hmm. I can try: Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is a middle-aged business owner with a quietly frustrated husband (Ke Huy Quan), a defiant daughter (Stephanie Hsu) and a great big tax problem (embodied in an IRS auditor played by Jamie Lee Curtis).

At least, that’s who she is in our universe. Across others, she’s everything from a hibachi chef to a concert soprano. Throughout all of those universes, there’s a … well, how to describe it? In any case, Evelyn will have to absorb the powers of all possible Evelyns in order to … well, what is her essential goal, really?

Nope. Can’t quite tell you the plot, either.

Am I supposed to laud the work of the individuals involved? I can certainly do that, since they’re all laudable — almost transcendentally so. To call Yeoh perfect is not enough; she goes beyond that, capturing the cosmic and existential power of “Everything Everywhere” in a remarkable, soaring arc of a performance. Quan takes the amiable charm of his child-actor past — you’ll remember a much smaller version of him from “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” — and turns it into a cypher of support and love. Curtis, meanwhile, gives what is quite possibly the performance of her career (and think of what that covers).

Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, credited collectively as Daniels, elevate the heartfelt absurdism of their 2016 oddity “Swiss Army Man” and pass into shaggy sublimity. In dull, formalist terms, I could probably point out areas of “Everything Everywhere” that could have been tightened or sharpened, but such pedestrian criticisms need not apply; the alchemical magic of this film overrides any quibble.

To surrender yourself to “Everything Everywhere” is to allow for a unique and supernaturally resonant experience. Inevitably, there will be those who call praise like this undue or exaggerated; I don’t know how this movie stacks up against, well, normal movies. Because it’s simply not that. It’s something else.

So no, I don’t know how to review it. But I know that you should see it. Just be sure you’re all the way in when you do.

My Rating: 10/10

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” opens in Pittsburgh theaters on April 8.

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