If you’ve shuddered at the thought of what a tax audit might look like, rest assured: it’s worse.
At least that’s what directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert paint in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
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 the impending 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.
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.
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The Daniels (as the directors are casually called) 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 hasty grace and figures out how to handle the storms that swirl 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 super powers 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.
“Everything, everywhere, all at once”? That’s what she offers.