Directors: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (The Daniels)
Screenwriters: The Daniels
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis
Cinematographer: Larkin Seiple
The concept of the “Multiverse” is a hypothetical collection of diverse universes that derives itself from a central one. Theorists and scientists agree that the possibilities are endless when it comes to making cosmological observations. And who better than Hollywood to take up the challenge of bringing these ideas to the big screen? Truth be told, the idea of the multiverse has been explored in film quite often, with the comic book movie genre adapting the concept the most.
Not to be restricted by a genre, directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are back to bring the chaotic energy of the multiverse theory to theaters. After witnessing their feature directorial debut Swiss Army Man in 2016, I’ve been looking forward to The Daniels’ next feature for a long time. And their latest is nothing short of perfection.
Everything Everywhere All at Once, is a sci-fi action comedy starring Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang. With her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), Evelyn manages a struggling laundromat and balances family issues- all while planning for the Chinese New Year party for the neighborhood. But when a trip to the IRS results in agent Deirdre Beaubeirdra’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) questioning of Evelyn’s reports, tensions elevate. To make matters worse, Alpha Waymond, a man from a different universe who takes over Waymond’s body, explains to Evelyn that she is the only one who can stop an imminent threat from destroying all universes.
It’s hard to grasp how a film so chaotic and heavy with action sequences could produce a theater experience that encompasses equal amounts of fun with emotional sedulity. But the Daniels manage this great task with ease. Throughout the story, it’s evident the filmmakers, cast, and crew put their all into the film simply because of the outcome. This is the kind of film to reignite a viewer’s love of filmmaking.
There are great technical achievements to go along with the entertainment factor of the Daniels’ screenplay. With exceptional editing to handle the back and forth between universes, Paul Rogers pulls out all the stops to make scene and universe transitions effortless. He is certainly the unsung hero of this film who masters the art of editing (Academy, take notes). But when I wasn’t gawking at the remarkable direction under the Daniels’ lens or getting wrapped up with the flawless shifts from one chaotic scene to another, it was the acting and heartwarming family dynamic that kept me afloat.
It’s no surprise that a sci-fi adventure film such as this one could be daring and adept. But the family moments and underlying message about being yourself is worth celebrating. Additionally, the film showcases Chinese family dynamics throughout this feature in a non-stereotypical way that doesn’t make a mockery of the culture. Instead, the film sets itself as a great display of Chinese American representation.
If there’s one thing to know about Everything Everywhere All at Once before its wide release on April 8, 2022, it’s that it will be hard to top this feature as far as films centered around multiverses are concerned. I’m unafraid to be a prisoner of the moment when I say this was one of the best watching experiences I’ve ever had. But I’m even more unashamed to admit that this feature will make my list of top films of the decade. This isn’t me tapping into my dramatic tendencies, which I often like to do. I just can’t imagine there ever being a film like this one soon.
Check out the trailer of A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once — in select theaters now and with a wider release April 8, 2022.