'Everything Everywhere All at Once' Is a Kaleidoscope of Creativity With Michelle Yeoh (Review)

Everything Everywhere All at Once from the directing duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, better known as the Daniels, is not as chaotic as its title suggests. Just as the pair previously proved that a farting corpse could become a tool to help a man understand his faults in Swiss Army Man (2016), the two use the multiverse concept to show a family's love for one another surviving no matter the dimensional boundaries between them. The mother and daughter relationship and the fear of passing one's faults through the generations run through this movie's core.

Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Wang, who shares a laundromat business with her husband Waymond, played by Ke Huy Quan. They have a daughter, Joy, played by the film's breakout star Stephanie Hsu, who hopes her recently-arrived grandfather (James Hong) will accept her girlfriend, Becky (Tallie Medel). She's also fiercely independent in ways Evelyn can't quite understand. As this family drama plays out, the Wangs' business is also being audited by the IRS.

Once they get to the IRS building, Everything Everywhere All at Once begins taking off fast. An alternate version of Waymond takes over his body to tell Evelyn the rules of the multiverse and how someone named Jobu Tupaki is on the verge of destroying everything. At first, Evelyn doesn't know what to do with this information; after all, she wants to save her business from IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra's (Jamie Lee Curtis) wrath. When Evelyn learns why she's the only one who can stop Jobu, she agrees to take up the cause even if it splinters her reality.

This all surely does sound a little confusing. The Daniels created their own multiverse rules from the ground up, but their script is less interested in ensuring it all makes a lick of sense than it is with getting to the themes of their story. It's fun to dive into the Matrix-esque rules, but the real story is Evelyn's relationship with her family and how she responds to being presented with alternate possibilities. She is desperate to make sure the flaws of an older generation do not pass onto Joy, but all that does is drive a wedge further between the two.

While Back to the Future might suggest that a person's future is never written, in Everything Everywhere, the Daniels theorize that we always have a path and people in our lives we will always meet. No matter what special abilities Evelyn may exhibit in her alternate realities, she still faces the same challenges. Love is everything everywhere and comes all at once. It's just that in Everything Everywhere, Evelyn is gifted with a chance to see the ultimate cost of her decisions.

Everything Everywhere is also jam-packed to the brim with creative decisions exploding throughout its two-hour-plus runtime. It never feels that long. The Daniels inject film references at every corner, from the gorgeously shot In The Mood For Love-inspired universe to the surprisingly touching Ratatouille world. The directors, who reunited with Swiss Army Man cinematographer Larkin Seiple, staged astonishing fight sequences throughout the drab-looking IRS office. Surprisingly, much of the movie takes place in a boring government office.

None of this works without Yeoh's anchoring performance. Her presence on screen can only come from decades of being one of the best at what she does, seamlessly moving from fights to delivering pitch-perfect comic lines. While everything around her is moving at such a frenetic pace, she seems unmoved by the challenges. The rest of the cast is great too. Quan has lost none of his comic charm in the decades since starring in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Hsu is on track to be a star, with a performance that shows she's skilled at so much more than the supporting part she had in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Everything Everywhere All at Once proves the multiverse concept is great for more than just comic book movies. The Daniels added the idea to their toolbox and used it to craft a finely tuned family drama packed with astonishing performances and technical wizardry. Its seemingly infinite layers will make it endlessly rewatchable, but the film is successful because its true target is the heart.