Everything Everywhere All At Once: A Review

Having recently reviewed The Fabelmans as a personal favorite for Best Picture, (and a wish that Spielberg’s semi-biopic tall tale might also win Oscars for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) it seems only fair to give Everything Everwhere All At Once similar scrutiny. At this moment I have yet to see a couple of the Best Picture nominees but so far these two films are my top picks for those awards.

There’s a lot of buzz around Everything Everywhere All At Once as A24s most successful box office film to date with receipts at 107 million and counting. This family focused, sci-fi comedy has touched a nerve in the collective zeitgeist with its mind-bending, multiverse and soulful performances from Oscar-nominated actors Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Kwan, Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis. Paul Rogers’ editing is spectacular and he’s an Oscar nominee too. Remember that name.

This film has Eleven Academy Award Nominations and, like The Fabelmans has already been awarded several pre-Oscar awards from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the festival circuit. In fact, Everything Everywhere All At Once debuted at SXSW last March before its official theatrical release.

Everything Everywhere All At Once was shot in just over 30 days in January 2020, right before the Covid Pandemic put the world in lockdown.

To be fair, I have screened both films at least twice on my home theatre system for a closer look and have copies of both scripts. Both movies stand up to multiple viewings and, in fact, get better the second and third time through. There’s a lot packed into each one. Plot details are avoided to accommodate those who haven’t seen these movies yet.

The overarching theme is the stand-out: that nothing is real so nothing matters except love and finding one’s own truth. That idea permeates the story and renders this quirky film quasi-zen. This expansive concept has been creeping into the film world as early as Time Jumper, The Matrix and Inception. Shang-Chi also went there as did the phenomenally successful Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Everything is the first time to my knowledge however, that the multiverse imposes itself on an unsuspecting protagonist and makes us laugh.

Of course this all fits the global vibe of an upgrade in consciousness. It’s all about quantum physics and the 5 D. Can we really go on living in a three-dimensional box? The answer is an unequivocal no. In spite of all the martial arts moves, evocative costumes, shocking scene juxtapositions, changes in reality, special effects and fast editing, Everything Everywhere All At Once turns out to be a heartfelt comic family adventure through the strangeness of what it is to be human. That’s the big surprise and as far as I can go without spoiling the plot.

The central throughline mentioned above, the performances and various film and stagecraft techniques is why Everything Everywhere is a favorite this awards season. I do love this movie even though many of the scenes made me uncomfortable (on purpose) and will remember it in the same way I remember Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction; as novel, hip darkly funny and eye-opening. It will be interesting to see what The Daniels (the writing-directing team Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) bring us next.

Postscript: The PGA just awarded the producers of Everything Everywhere All At Once the prestigious Daryl F. Zanuck Award for Best Producers. This may or may not be an indication of how the Academy will vote in the Best Picture category.