Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stars: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong
Mooted as a hipper alterative to ‘Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness’ this sci-fi comedy, from the directing duo behind the endearingly oddball ‘Swiss Army Man’, is ingenious but exhausting.
Yeoh, is Evelyn Wang, a put upon Chinese immigrant running a dilapidated laundromat in the US. Fatigued by the daily toil and the demands of fussy customers, Evelyn is also having to deal with various other issues; a dissolving marriage to husband, the well-meaning, meek Waymond (Quan from ‘Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom’ and ‘The Goonies’), a strained relationship with her gay daughter Stephanie (Hsu), and a visit from China from her judgemental father Gong (Hong). Her life is turned upside down when, during an interview the Wangs have with fearsome IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdra (an amusingly frumpy Lee Curtis), Waymond is possessed by the consciousness of ‘Alpha Waymond’ a multiverse-traversing operative from the ‘Alpahverse’ who informs Evelyn that she is the only hope the various multiverses have to defeat Jobu Tupaki, a destructive evil being who is able to exist in all universes simultaneously.
Although initially reluctant, Evelyn accepts and on her various multiverse-visiting adventures, encounters other, seemingly more accomplished versions of herself, where she is, in turn, a kung fu master, an opera singer, and skilled chef.
It’s meticulously assembled and dazzlingly mounted, and in its own deranged way actually hangs together narratively. The excess of turbocharged whimsy – an overdone gag about a universe where people have hot dogs for fingers and an extended riff on ‘Ratatouille’ – becomes very wearing over the 140 minute running time, with the human elements and insights about family and acceptance almost drowned out.
Still, Yeoh, whose English language roles frequently alternate between elegantly serene and cold fish, goes for broke here, gleefully sending up her various personas to entertaining effect.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is out Friday 13th
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