In EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022), a Chinese-American woman tries to finish her taxes at the local IRS offices, resulting in a cosmic battle to save the multiverse. Though it feels overstuffed at times and drags in others, overall, this absurdist drama-comedy is funny, is filled with interesting ideas, has a lot of great action, and carries a positive message.
The movie presents Evelyn Quan (the awesome Michelle Yeoh), a woman struggling with midlife crisis. Her husband seems goofy and weak to her, her daughter is a constant disappointment, her laundromat is failing, none of her dreams of doing something else have panned out, and her father, who’d once disowned her for marrying against his wishes, is now visiting. To make things worse, she has a meeting at the IRS with an agent (Jamie Lee Curtis, rocking this role) who is about to penalize the mess she’s made of things.
The meeting doesn’t go as planned. Evelyn is contacted by a force that sees her as the multiverse’s final hope–against her own daughter, who threatens to destroy everything.
The result might be described as THE MATRIX meets KUNG FU HUSTLE, as Evelyn must level up her abilities from infinite possibilities along with her perception of reality so she can defeat her nemesis, eventually realizing this is not a fight anyone can win. So she will have to fight differently.
The film’s marketing made me think I was headed into something like INCEPTION, and this isn’t that. The family drama is at the forefront here and everything–the cosmic conflict, apocalyptic stakes, and philosophy–stems from it. The action is a lot of fun, one of the elements lending the film plenty of absurdism that frequently had me laughing out loud. As a film of ideas, it’s less about the sci-fi aspect of multiple dimensions and more about existentialism–the meaning of the choices we make in our one crack at life, and nihilism and its own nemesis, compassion. In a lot of ways, with its local, lived-in focus for big ideas and general weirdness, this movie reminded me of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
Overall, I liked EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE a lot, and I’m happy to recommend it.