Review: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Is the Apex of the Multiverse Mini-Genre

Evelyn is dealing with a lot. She owns a laundromat and is struggling to put together her taxes.  She has a fraught relationship with her husband, her daughter, and her father who now lives with her. She’s dealing with an IRS investigation. Most importantly, she’s grappling with an ambient anxiety about her current existence, and how she could have ended up in the place she’s in now (cue up “Once in a Lifetime”). Evelyn is disappointed, and she’s tired. 

So of course, the only natural way for her story to unfold is for a different version of her husband to invade his original body during an elevator ride up to the IRS meeting, wherein he tells Evelyn that she might be the only person able to save “the multiverse,” which is under threat from a great evil that seeks to destroy life as we know it.  

This all leads to an incredibly bizarre, action-packed adventure as Evelyn fights nihilist cultists, grapples with seeing other outcomes she could have achieved in her life, reckons with her own existence, tries to save her family, and of course, the multiverse. 

Needless to say, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has a lot going on. But the direction of Daniels (a duo comprised of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, best known for their film “Swiss Army Man”) and the excellent lead performances are particularly up to the challenge of organizing all the information and making the audience buy into and care about the plot. 

To put it simply, this movie is wild. The whole idea of the “multiverse” has been a hot topic in blockbuster filmmaking recently (see: “Spider-Man: No Way Home”) and it’s a tough one to pull off. Multiple timelines/universes happening all at once would be cause for worry in the wrong hands. Luckily, here – when at the same time Evelyn exists in universes where she works at a laundromat, lives as a movie star in a particularly moving sequence referential to the esteemed Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, lives as a rock, works as a chef with Harry Shum Jr. of “Glee” fame, and … has hot dogs for fingers – it all makes sense because of the emotional throughline in Daniels’ script. 

In particular, Michelle Yeoh sells the film with her performance, possibly the best of her entire career. As much as she sells the brilliantly maximalist action sequences, she is particularly great in the more subtle beats of the film. Yeoh’s work sings especially in confrontation scenes with her husband, played by a top-of-his-game Ke Huy Quan, and her daughter, played by an also great Stephanie Hsu. Yeoh’s performance is perfectly textured here–it’s big when it needs to be, and honest when called for. 

That applies to the film as a whole. For reasons that will not be revealed here, the film was quite emotional in its last act. The emotional throughline of the story is set up from an early stage, but creeps up on the audience, creating a near-overwhelming sense of catharsis as the film comes to a close.  

Smart, funny, emotional, insane, and always creative, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” certainly lives up to its title, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that this film was completely refreshing as a piece of original blockbuster filmmaking. In an age where almost every blockbuster film is based on existing IP, anything new and original is welcome. It’s even more so when the end product is as good as this one. 

The multiverse genre can now end. We’ve got our masterpiece.