When you hear that a movie involves “The Multiverse” you probably are thinking Superhero. Something from DC or Marvel. Something that will be so totally confusing and confounding that you may just say, “eh, no”.
I implore you, do not skip EVERTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE. Calling it a Multiverse move is like calling Casablanca a Nazi movie or The Godfather a crime movie. All of those are true, but also beside the point.
EVERTHING EVERYWHERE… is about so much more. It is about family, being a mom, and the nature of failure and success. It uses the Multiverse as a tool to explore the larger message it is trying to convey. I’m not saying the Multiverse isn’t important or completely cool. It absolutely is. And it is far less confusing or brain melting than anything Marvel and DC are doing. I don’t want to spoil it, but just as a way of explanation, in this version you can access the skills of your counterpart in another timeline. I don’t think that gives too much away. It also makes for some of the craziest and funniest parts of the film. Yet for all that coolness, it is not the heart of the story.
Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn who owns a laundromat in Simi Valley with her husband (Ke Huy Quan… yes him… more on him later). They have a daughter Joy, played by Stephanie Szu (Mei from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). The laundromat is not doing well. They must go to the IRS for a meeting with an auditor played by Jamie Lee Curtis. The bring along her father (James Hong) who is visiting for a New Year celebration. After that, nothing is normal or usual.
The multiverse intrudes and Evelyn is as confused as we are. Her guide is her husband who keeps shifting into another version of himself from a different universe. Evelyn must catch on quickly to save the Multiverse, her family and her sanity. All this while trying to save and/or defeat her daughter who is the cause of all the chaos in the Multiverse.
But it’s not just about saving her daughter. It’s about saving her family. It’s about accepting who we are and who we can be. Evelyn believes she is a failure at the start. But is she? That is her journey of discovery.
All of this craziness comes from the warped minds of Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). They are the filmmakers behind SWISS ARMY MAN, a movie I really enjoyed. That was equally weird. But this is better. It uses our familiarity with this Multiverse stuff to tell a much deeper story. It could have gone completely sideways, but Daniels are good enough to know how far to take it before we all lose our minds and interest.
It helps that the case is perfect. Yeoh usually plays such strong, confident women. It was great to see her stretch outside of our familiarity. She totally nails it. You probably know Quan better as Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or as Data from The Goonies. His challenge here is to switch back and forth between confused, mouse of a husband to super confident Multiverse expert. He also nails it. Plus, he wins a fight using a fanny pack… so points for originality. Curtis is so good at these roles. She knows exactly how to sell her own role while bringing humor along for the ride.
The choreographed fight scenes are fantastic. The whole movie is kind of a mash up of Hong Kong martial arts, Superhero and family drama. Doesn’t sound like it would work, but it works on every level. We are due to get deep into Marvel’s Multiverse with the next Dr. Strange movie. I am confident Sam Raimi can pull it off, but probably not as effectively as Daniels.