This article contains major spoilers for Everything Everywhere All at Once.
You're sitting in Main Library. It's 9:59 PM, yet you're still grinding on homework. You want to take a break but have a midterm the next day. What do you do? What can you do? Everything Everywhere All at Once answers this question. Starring the incredible Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a movie about how existence can feel like a never-ending fight.
Directed by the Daniels, a film duo composed of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert, Everything Everywhere All at Once is a quirky, action-packed sci-fi comedy hodgepodge that follows failing laundromat owners Evelyn Wang (Yeoh) and her husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan).
One day, Evelyn meets Alpha-Waymond, an assertive, badass version of her husband from the aptly-named “Alpha-Universe.” Alpha-Waymond gives Evelyn one task: fight and defeat an evil, omnipotent entity called Jobu Tupaki. The only way that Evelyn can fight Jobu is by "verse-jumping," a technique that allows her to tap into the mind of one of her alternate identities in the multiverse. From this, she can either gather super helpful abilities, such as kung-fu, or obtain extremely useless ones, such as hotdog fingers.
Although the film's plot does seem a little cheesy and perhaps overdone, the Daniels defied almost all expectations. The film generated momentum from the first fight scene, upping the ante and absurdity every minute. Some moments were extremely dramatic, with action scenes that rivaled John Wick. Others were absolutely hilarious, filled with self-aware jokes that poked fun at Evelyn's peril.
Yet beneath all of the beautiful cinematography and action-packed hilarity, the Daniels impressively snuck in meta-commentary about existence and cultural identity.
Evelyn faces a battle between her Chinese and American identities. She tries to appeal to both her aging conservative Chinese father and her progressive American-born daughter. She fights this intercultural battle everyday and hates it, unable to do anything because she is tied to both.
She dreams of escaping her difficult, yet mundane life. She spends copious amounts of money on new hobbies, only to find her miserable situation unchanged. In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Daniels asks and answers the question – if existential fulfillment is not defined by our occupational and familial identities, then how can we truly be happy?
The film is amazing. The Daniels tried to appeal to everybody – the action crowd, the drama crowd, the comedy crowd and even the English major crowd. Whether you're hoping to be entertained or gain some profound meta-commentary, Everything Everywhere All at Once definitely delivers. If there was any reason to skip out on studying, it should be for this movie.
Thumbnail graphic by Esther Tang.