BRUCE R. MILLER
We are coming halfway through the year of cinema. What’s your best list so far?
Are these the big blockbusters of the summer? A little indie? Or is it something that doesn’t quite disappear from the mind, even when you try?
For me, it’s ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’, a quirky movie that involves so much detail that you can’t quite grasp everything that’s going on.
Beginning in a humble laundromat, “Everything” expands into other worlds, universes, and mindsets in an effort to show what’s swirling around the head of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), the laundromat owner who is stressed by an impending tax audit. Her father is a grumpy old man, her daughter is a rebel (at least in Evelyn’s world), and her husband (Ke Huy Quan) is a dissatisfied partner who wants out.
Adding to the misery, the listener (an unrecognizable and very funny Jamie Lee Curtis) is a beast who won’t let anyone slip through his hot dog fingers.
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As the Wangs ride the elevator in the IRS, life changes, and soon they are traversing other universes and learning when to unleash high-level martial arts moves. The concept is so bizarre that you just have to go there and soon you’re ready for Evelyn to face anyone.
Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert throw a lot at him, including scenes from a movie premiere (don’t ask), a cliff with two rocks, an out-of-control party, and a tornado of tax papers. At first it is difficult to understand what is happening. Then the comedy sets in and “Everything” moves onto Terry Gilliam’s pitch. It’s so wild that even those hot dog fingers make sense.
Yeoh, however, is the glue that holds it all together. She handles all strange situations with hurried grace and figures out how to handle the storms swirling around her. Easily, she could have handled the Avengers’ “Endgame” with more finesse than any of them.
Here she is a wife, mother and daughter who should have superpowers in case of trouble. The metaphors are obvious, but that doesn’t stop the directors from imagining a much more complex world than Marvel ever imagined.
Cut out the special effects, quick edits, wild costumes and time jumps and “Everything” becomes an adaptation story. It’s Evelyn’s “take me away” moment that shows just how much we can handle anything.
There are messy moments (especially those involving his daughter Joy), but also ones that hit where something so unbalanced must land.
Veteran James Hong appears as Evelyn’s father and he is, once again, one of those surprises you didn’t expect. When he finds a bonding moment, “Everything” suggests that all can be well in the world. It’s just a matter of connecting the dots.
The Champion: Yeoh, who is so nimble at it that she deserves to be on every Best Actress list next year.