Googly Eyes, Hot Dog Fingers…Bagels? A Review of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

Lily Kamrath, Managing Editor

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is a simultaneously beautiful, chaotic, disorienting and unexpectedly touching film that has taken Hollywood by storm. Released in March 2022, the movie has earned its spot as one of the top films of the year — measured not only by its extensive critical acclaim and box office success — but also due to its widespread impact on viewers around the world. 

Overworked Chinese immigrant mother Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) struggles with IRS auditor Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) to keep her failing laundromat business open, while also grappling with tense family relationships: her estranged daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), her meek husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and her disapproving father, Gong Gong (James Wang). 

All of Evelyn’s stressors pile up in the rising action of the movie, as she navigates familial pressures, financial strain and the ache of falling short of her aspirations. She suddenly finds herself swept up in an insane interdimensional plot — Evelyn alone can save the multiverse and everyone in it from the menacing and unpredictable Jobu Tupaki. She experiences tastes of what her life would have been had she made different choices, hopping from dimension to dimension and navigating her newfound supernatural powers with the help of her husband Waymond.

As a diehard loyal fan of Michelle Yeoh, I picked out this movie on a whim during a flight to California. I had absolutely no idea the wild ride I was in for. 

The film’s mind boggling melting pot of sci-fi, action and absurdist genres make for a truly overwhelming viewing experience, which directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as “Daniels”) have claimed as their signature style. 

Yeoh’s background as a martial artist shines in some of the complex stunt sequences throughout the film; keep in mind that the Hong Kong-based movie legend recently turned 60!

However, as visually impressive as Everything, Everywhere is, at its core, what resonates with audiences worldwide was the film’s revolutionary representation of countless stories that may have been repressed or distorted.

So why does Everything, Everywhere, despite all its fantastical plot choices, feel so sincere to its viewers? 

According to Annabelle Fung, ‘24, “the media you consume really shapes your perspective…if [cultures and races] are portrayed [negatively], people start to form unconscious stereotypes and associations with cultures they have otherwise [very little] exposure to”. 

However, viewers agree that Everything, Everywhere, All at Once manages to avoid cliches, depicting a nuanced, raw story amidst the chaos of its storyline.

To Fung, it all comes down to the details. “It was really interesting to see that family structure portrayed in that movie. I feel like a lot of the time families in media are sugarcoated. It was [refreshing] to see [realistic] conflicts”. 

Additionally, Fung appreciated the integration of “Chinglish” (Chinese and English) into the film’s script. When the Wangs “switched between languages smoothly, it brought to life an authentic Asian American family and their dialogue”, Fung elaborated. 

A story told in the multiverse was coincidentally a fantastic way to portray the immigrant experience. Director Kwan said, “The question of ‘what if?’ looms over anyone who has had to upend their life and move somewhere else…it wasn’t intentional, but…the multiverse was the perfect place for us to explore that.” 

The film has taken award shows by storm, with an astounding 11 Oscar nominations, earning the superb cast and crew worldwide acclaim.

Michelle Yeoh achieved the historic honor of being the first self-identifying Asian woman nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress. This distinction is absolutely meteoric for AAPI representation in pop culture. 

After 40 years in the movie industry, Michelle Yeoh feels satisfied with the legacy she has left from the film. Yeoh confessed, “[Everything, Everywhere, All at Once] represents so many who have hoped to be seen in this way, to have a seat at the table, to say ‘I am of value too’”. 

Fung expressed her excitement over Michelle and the rest of Everything, Everywhere’s cast finally being recognized by a broader Western audience, though she admitted it was “discouraging it took Hollywood this long” to recognize their talents.

Though admittedly the sci-fi/action genre is not typically my cup of tea, the viewing experience of Everything, Everywhere was truly like no other. Every character is deeply likeable, despite their flaws. The action sequences were thrilling and unique, leaving viewers shell-shocked and thus more receptive to the film’s various heartfelt moments. The film is truly touching despite all its absurdity; I found myself wiping away tears during three separate scenes (no spoilers, though). 

I believe what truly makes Everything, Everywhere, All at Once great is how it stays in viewers’ hearts even after the ending credits play. 

Even after I stepped off the flight, I found myself reflecting on the movie for days. The rollercoaster of laughing and crying, oscillating along with the characters between pure heartbreak and joy is one viewers will not easily forget.

Even if the characters’ on screen experience does not exactly parallel that of some audience members, viewers find themselves rooting for Evelyn to succeed: to make amends with her daughter, to save her family business and to find peace amidst the never-ending chaos. Though of course not everyone has to jump through dimensions and parallel universes to save the world, Everything, Everywhere transforms mundane life stories into a narrative so bizarre, it’s profound.

Michelle Yeoh concluded, “to make such an ordinary woman be extraordinary, it’s very fulfilling, because I think that is all of us.”