Everything Everywhere All at Once - B+
Rated R, 140 minutes
I'll be perfectly honest here: the eccentric new science-fiction and action adventure from director and writers collectively known as Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, of "Swiss Army Knife") is one of the weirdest films you'll see this year, but also one of the most original and entertaining. The chaotic, overlong narrative is filled with too many digressions, but it's best to sit back and enjoy this fantastically strange ride through mind and matter.
An aging, exhausted Chinese immigrant named Evelyn (the excellent Michelle Yeoh, of "Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings") has trouble staying focused with tax and family problems, is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. Evelyn's daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan - of the 1980's film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"), father Gong Gong (familiar character actor James Hong) and the IRS agent Deirdre (a wonderfully frumpy Jamie Lee Curtis) helping her with her taxes.
The "Everything Everywhere All the Time" is part sci-fi, part Tarantino and part "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on acid, all rolled up in a magical original cookie of its own. Writer and directing duo Daniels don't waste anytime taking Evelyn and placing her in the center of a multi-verse where she gets to experience what she could've been, all the while trying to make sense of it all and keeping her family together. It's the whole making sense of it all that could be a challenge, in addition to keeping up with Daniels frenetic pacing and visuals that rarely stops for a breath until the end, and when it does, grab some tissues.
The visuals are first-rate and one of the chief reasons to see the film, in addition to the excellent, award-worthy turn from Yeoh, who manages to ground the proceedings with a touching performance as Evelyn, and a memorably over-the-top turn from Curtis in a wonderful role that is deserving of a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Rocks talking to each other, a big everything bagel, and a universe where humans have hot dog fingers are among the kooky things that Daniels has up their sleeve, and even if they don't make sense, they're often brilliantly funny.
Daniels script in "Everywhere Everything All at Once" could've been tightened, especially in its overlong first act, and there are many, many digressions that while fun, don't necessarily advance the story much. Once it slows down late in the film and lets you take a breath, it provides some touching messages about family and personal regrets; the exchange between Hsu and Yeoh as they work through their issues is the film's most touching scene, and should prompt some tears.
Not everyone will love or enjoy the highly entertaining yet possibly divisive "Everything Everywhere All at Once" nor will you get all of it, but it's a fun, worthy ride to be seen from two original filmmakers doing some of their best work. One of the most original films of 2022 so far, and I'd love to see nominations for Daniels as well as Yeoh and Curtis during next year's awards season.