If the universe speaks in riddles and the key to a happy life is to decipher the meaning of the universe, then Everything Everywhere All at Once is the owner’s manual. Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, before embarking on this inimitable journey to the many verses, I suggest you buckle up for safety.
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) run a laundromat in California. Evelyn lives a life of stress and worry, running the laundromat, caring for her aging father, Gong Gong (James Hong), and rebellious daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and ignoring her husband, Waymond, all in an effort to stay sane and afloat.
Waymond thinks life should be experienced through random acts of kindness — he puts goggley eyes on all the bags of washed clothes — something Evelyn hates thinking it puerile, not because she’s a mean person, but because of her hyper-stressed condition. She’s either yelling at Waymond or ignoring him; she never laughs.
Their daughter Joy, aimless and disillusioned, has come out to her parents as gay, but Evelyn refuses to introduce Joy’s girlfriend Becky to Gong Gong and instead introduces Becky as Joy’s very good friend which angers Joy. Becky who is more like Waymond, let’s the slight pass unacknowledged.
There is an IRS audit, the auditor played by Jamie Lee Curtis who I assumed was wearing a fat suit, but who instead has renounced the beauty standards that women have been impossibly held to for so long and decided to just be herself — kudos, Jamie!
There is an Everything Bagel of Life — I’ve long suspected that an everything bagel might be the key to life, actually — and the world, left dangling on the precipice as it so often is these days, unless Evelyn does something to stop the great evil spreading across the many verses.
There is a lot of time travel.
There are so many laughs that you may need to watch it again to catch all the things you missed from laughing.
And there is so much wisdom traded in laughter that you will come away sated on a hundred different levels.
In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity, according to the old adage, attributable to both Sun Tzu and Albert Einstein, respectively, and in Everything Everywhere All at Once chaos permeates every scene to brilliant hilarity.
The most prophetic and useful moral of the movie comes from Evelyn’s husband(s) Waymond Wang when he is trying to recruit her to the cause, and it applies to each and every one of us no matter what we do, where we are, or where we are planning to go in this multiverse we call life:
Every rejection, every disappointment, has led you here to this moment. Don’t let anything distract you from it.
pam lazos — 8.12.22