Saturday, November 12, 2022

Stubs - Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis. Directed by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert. Screenplay by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert. Produced by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang. Run time: 140 minutes. Color. USA Absurdist, Science Fiction, Adventure, Comedy-Drama

Multiverses seem to be all the rage recently with such films as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) all taking shots at the concept. While the superhero movies have been hit and miss with it another entry into the genre succeeds; Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as Daniels.

Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan), Evelyn Quan Wang (Michele Yeoh) and Gong Gong (James Hong).

Life hasn’t always been good to Evelyn Quan Wang (Michele Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant whose life decisions have led her to leave home with Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan); come to America; start a failing laundromat business; have a grown daughter Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu) who hates her who is also involved in a lesbian relationship with a white girl, Becky (Tallie Medel); in a marriage on the brink of divorce; and has tax problems with IRS. In fact, she is on her way to face IRS Inspector, Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), for an audit with her father Gong Gong (James Hong) in tow.

She doesn’t seem to be good at anything and as Waymond as Alpha Wang tells her “Every rejection, every disappointment has led you to this moment. Don't let anything distract you from it.” The it turns out to save not only her world but all of the multiverses where a version of her exists. In the Alphaverse, a version of her, Alpha Evelyn, developed "verse-jumping" technology that allows people to access the skills, memories, and bodies of their parallel universe counterparts by fulfilling specific conditions.

A universe where people have hot dog fingers.

With a version of her husband, Alpha Waymond, as her guide, she is able to access her skills in these other verses, including one in which she is a world-renowned actress, a world where people have hot dogs for fingers and she’s in a lesbian relationship with Deirdre, and one in which she’s working a teppanyaki chef Chad, who is secretly puppeteered by a raccoon, among others. Evelyn’s  mission is to stop Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu), a version of her daughter who is a threat to the multiverse.

To say more about the plot would give too much away. I’m not even sure I can do a decent job summarizing the story. This is one movie that you have to see to appreciate and I don’t want to rob you of the fun of watching.

An example of the use of special effects.

The special effects are done sparingly on a budget but at times are very impressive. While they are important to the story, this is more than a film that relies on them.

Michelle Yeoh plays an Evelyn like herself in one of the multiverses.

But it is the acting that really sells the picture. Michelle Yeoh gives a very good performance as Evelyn. She shows a wide range from the subtle to the athletic with a comedic tough I didn’t know she had. The Malaysian-born actress got her first break making films in Hong Kong and became an international star thanks to her roles in the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and as the star of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). She’s a little older now, 60 when this film premiered but a little age works on her.

 Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

If you think Vietnam-born Ke Huy Quan looks familiar, you have a good memory. He was Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Data in The Goonies (1985). After a stint on the American sitcom Head of the Class, Ke stopped acting and became a stunt coordinator and assistant director after receiving a degree from the USC School of Cinema Studies. His role here as Waymond was his return to acting. He seems like he can make the leap from a child star to an adult one.

Stephanie Hsu plays Joy Wang and seen her as Jobu Tupaki.

Stephanie Hsu has been active for the past 12 years, including stints on Broadway in Be More Chill and The SpongeBob Musical. She has also been a regular on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel coming onboard during the 3rd Season of the Amazon Prime sitcom. While Everything Everywhere All at Once is not her first film, it is her biggest role to date.  She no doubt has a great career ahead of her.

Jamie Lee Curtis plays Deirdre Beaubeirdre. 

Jamie Lee Curtis makes the most of her role as the IRS auditor, Deirdre Beaubeirdre without overacting. She lets the material work. Perhaps best known for her roles in the original Halloween and its sequels, she gets to show a comedic bent that she is not always associated with.  She performs the role so that you take notice but she doesn’t steal focus.

What can you say about James Hong that hasn’t already been said. He is one of those actors that always seems to make whatever he’s in a little better than it would have been without him. That’s true if he’s doing voicework as Mr. Ping in the Kung Fu Panda films or in a supporting role on The Big Bang Theory as the proprietor of a Chinese food restaurant. Hong has appeared in over 650 films and TV episodes making him one of the most prolific actors of all time. He, therefore, brings a lot to the role of Gong Gong and his performance does not disappoint.

Writers and directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively, the Daniels, have created something somewhat unique; an absurdist, science fiction, adventure comedy. While the film might be hard to describe it is not hard to watch. If you didn’t catch this film in the theaters, then I would suggest finding it somewhere and watching it. That said, please note that there are scenes inappropriate for children. 

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