Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert–better known as The Daniels or just Daniels when their credited work appears made a bit of a splash in the film world when their 2016 feature length debut, Swiss Army Man, hit cinemas. Most people remember or even only heard about Swiss Army Man as the movie where Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse. Hook, line, and sinker for a lot of people. Of course, the film was a lot more than that but for those who had never seen their short films or music video work, Swiss Army Man was a primer for what these two minds could bring to the world.
Now, Daniels are back at it again with Everything Everywhere All at Once, and boy let me tell you; they have outdone themselves and created one of the most brilliant pieces of cinema in a very long time. When the trailers first came out, I avoided even looking at it. I wanted to walk into this film as blind as I could. And I’ll get into what I experienced shortly but I won’t wait till the end of this review to tell everyone; GO! Go now, get your tickets, see this movie immediately at the first chance you get.
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) left her life in China long ago to move to America with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). The two run a busy laundry mat that they live above. Their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) fights to get their attention and is seemingly brushed aside by Evelyn. On the eve of the Chinese New Year Evelyn is trying to plan and cook for a party they are throwing at the laundry mat, compile receipts for an IRS audit in the business, and please her father (James Hong) who just landed in The States for the first time in…forever? All of these issues come to a head when Waymond suddenly bequeaths some strange advice as they are about to site down with their IRS auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis).
That brief description does not even being to scratch the surface of this wild, yet still oddly grounded film. You won’t get many specifics out of me for what is encased within Everything Everywhere All at Once, because you need to experience it yourself in as fresh as a state as possible. While I expected something crazy, kooky, wacky, etc. I in no way was prepared to (and this is not meant to sound like some stupid pun) literally feel every emotion possible, all at once.
There are a myriad of films you can can made you laugh one minute and cry the next. Instead, Everything Everywhere All at Once had me crying from laughter and sadness in tandem. There was comedy in the most touching moments, and despair in the funniest. Break open your dictionaries and thesauruses. Look up every word attached to or that can be used in place of an emotion. You, the viewer will be bathing in every single word and description you find and even if at one moment you find yourself wallowing in despair…you’ll find yourself smiling with glee from both the adventure you’re watching and sense of acceptance it is helping you understand.
And talk about performances! We’ll be here all day if I took the time to sing the praises of everyone involved here. They’re all fantastic, but allow me to spend some time shining a light on Ke Huy Quan. Many of you may already know who he is, but in my attempts to stay ignorant about this film, I only knew that Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis were in this film. And of course Michelle Yeoh is just stunning, and the legend that is James Hong made me cry, but Ke Huy Quan moves so swiftly and effortlessly through different states of consciousness, it’s breathtaking. So, I go home and I look him up because I know I know him from somewhere, but I can’t place it. Data from The Goonies, Short-Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom…he’s back and he’s absolutely killing it!
I’ve seen someone comment somewhere that this is just a live action version of Rick and Morty, and I get that feeling. There are comparisons to be made, especially with some of the wackier places the film goes. But this is so much more, and in an alternate universe, this is a Stephen Chow film. Never has a film so clearly explored a visual and sensory dive into mental health and other issues like this before. Nobody but The Daniels could have brought this to life with the power, levity, silliness, depth, sadness, glory, insight, drama that makes up Everything Everywhere All at Once. Best picture of 2022so far, bar-none.
Final Grade: A+