When my wife and I went to see Everything Everywhere All at Once at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany in late January, the cashier said, “It’s a wild ride, but it’s worth it.” That’s true.
The IMDb description: “A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.”
It’s very clever that it starts in such a mundane manner, with Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) trying to sort through the business receipts for the laundromat that she and her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), own. She’s preparing for their meeting with scary IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Also, she’s trying to say the right thing to her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), who’s in a relationship with non-Asian Becky (Tallie Medel). To boot, she needs to tend to her father, Gong Gong (the legendary James Hong).
Then the film takes an unexpected and surreal turn. Which Waymond is she talking with, her familiar or someone from another metaverse? Explaining this further is both difficult and ultimately pointless.
Yes, EEAAO is weird, bonkers, strange, absurd, often hilarious, and occasionally exhausting. Sentient rocks, a dangerous vortex, and my need to rethink eating hot dogs are all here. The costumes, especially those worn by Joy, are fantastic in every sense of the word.
Yet, at the core of the story by Oscar-nominated writers/directors The Daniels, who are Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, is the conventional story. It’s about a second-generation, sandwich-generation American woman who is contemplating her life choices. At some level, I liked it more when it was over than when I was watching it. My wife wants to see it again.
The Academy Awards buzz is warranted for all the actors nominated but also for costume designer Shirley Kurata.