How "Everything Everywhere" flips a hot dog finger at negativity
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, Jenny Slate and Harry Shum Jr. Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Screening on multiple online platforms. 149 minutes. PG
⭐️⭐️⭐️ ½ (out of four)
“No need to explain!” a character helpfully exclaims in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” much like the enigmatic rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland.”
The Lewis Carroll classic comes to mind, and so do more contemporary mind-benders like “The Matrix” and “Looper,” along with innumerable Hong Kong action films, in this exuberant and Oscar-dominating second feature by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“Swiss Army Man”).
“Verse-jumping” through a multitude of multiverses, it follows anxious Asian-American laundromat owner Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh, as she struggles to keep her family together while also attempting to save a panoply of parallel realms — including worlds of talking rocks, mind-controlling raccoons, hot dog fingers and sinister giant bagels — from dissolving into nothingness.
The main story is actually quite linear and empathically acted: Evelyn seeks to reconnect with her divorce-seeking husband (Ke Huy Quan), her estranged gay daughter (Stephanie Hsu) and her demanding traditional dad (James Hong) while also placating an officious tax collector (Jamie Lee Curtis). Then everything everywhere gets thrown down rabbit holes of multiverse insanity, which sometimes gets exhausting but never boring.
Raising an ecstatic hot dog middle finger to the negativity of modern times, “EEAAO” urges us to free our minds and accept that it’s OK to be strange. To quote one of the film’s talking rocks: “Every new discovery is just a reminder we’re all small and stupid.” 🌓
(Originally published in the Toronto Star.)