MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
The title says it all. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a film that goes off in so many different directions that it’s rather surprising (in hindsight) to discover a rather straightforward story filled with a life affirming message.
My spoiler-free synopsis: Evelyn and Waymond Wong (Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan), a Chinese-American couple who operate a laundromat, have to gather together documents for a tax audit while also planning a Chinese New Year’s party for Gong Gong (James Hong), Evelyn’s father.
There are a few complications. Diedre (Jamie Lee Curtis), the IRS agent, is ready to battle them every step of the way. Their teenage daughter Joy (Hsu) is struggling with her identity as she tries to figure out the best way to introduce her friend Becky (Tallie Medel) as her girlfriend. And Evelyn finds herself yanked out of her everyday problems by an alternative version of her husband who tells her that she is needed to save the world from the evil powers of Jobu Tupaki. To accomplish this mission, Evelyn will have to enter the multi-verse.
This is a film that is best experienced knowing as little as possible, but it’s a movie that gleefully combines fantasy, comedy, domestic drama, coming-of-age, superhero epic, marital arts combat, and satire into a fast-moving and over-long thrill ride.
What a great cast has been assembled for this movie. Michelle Yeoh first came to prominence in martial arts films before becoming internationally known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ke Huy Quan began his career 38 years ago as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. James Hong has a legacy of over sixty years in film and television.
This is the second major feature from the co-directing team known as Daniels. They first created 2016’s Swiss Army Man, another strange film that featured Daniel Radcliffe as a talking corpse who helps Paul Dano’s character get off of a deserted island. Clearly, their imagination is given free reign in both of these movies.
I cannot imagine how the filmmakers were able to find financial backers for Everything Everywhere All at Once, but the sheer joy of filmmaking on display combined with a cast fully committed to the wackiness has created something special.
Everyone’s life consists of choices and the consequences that follow. Our Wesleyan theology of grace affirms that God goes ahead of us and with us into whatever future we choose (or that is chosen for us by others’ decisions). As frenetic and sometimes cringe-worthy as this film becomes, it offers Evelyn an opportunity to assess her current situation and see the beauty and possibilities that exist by accepting and appreciating what you have.
Everything Everywhere All at Once takes a mid-life crisis and transforms it by combining the wisdom of age and experience with the possibilities of youthful passion. It’s a daunting challenge but also a lot of fun, if you can tolerate being poked quite a bit by playful pitchforks.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: This fast-moving action comedy is a positive celebration of life and family.
Four pitchforks: Occasional strong language; a few jokes involving sex toys; extreme comic book violence; alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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