Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a 2022 American absurdist comedy-drama film written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as "Daniels"), who produced it with the Russo brothers. It stars Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese-American woman being audited by the Internal Revenue Service who discovers that she must connect with parallel universe versions of herself to prevent a powerful being from causing the destruction of the multiverse. Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis appear in supporting roles. The film was described by The New York Times as a "swirl of genre anarchy" and features elements of black comedy, science fiction, fantasy, martial arts film, and animation.

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Kwan
Daniel Scheinert
Written by
  • Daniel Kwan
  • Daniel Scheinert
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyLarkin Seiple
Edited byPaul Rogers
Music bySon Lux
Production
companies
Distributed byA24
Release dates
  • March 11, 2022 (2022-03-11) (SXSW)
  • March 25, 2022 (2022-03-25) (United States)
Running time
140 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Languages
  • English
  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
Budget$25 million[2]
Box office$100.5 million[3][4]

Kwan and Scheinert researched the concept of the multiverse as far back as 2010, and began penning the screenplay as early as 2016. Originally written for Jackie Chan, the lead role was later reworked and offered to Yeoh.[5][6] Principal photography began in January 2020 and concluded in March as the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States. The film's soundtrack features music composed by Son Lux, including collaborations with musicians Mitski, David Byrne, André 3000, and Randy Newman.

Everything Everywhere All at Once premiered at South by Southwest on March 11, 2022, and began a limited theatrical release in the United States on March 25, before a wide release by A24 on April 8. The film received widespread critical acclaim; reviews praised its imagination, direction, Yeoh, Hsu and Quan's performances, and handling of themes such as existentialism, nihilism, and Asian-American identity. It has grossed over $100 million worldwide, surpassing Hereditary (2018) as A24's highest-grossing film.

PlotEdit

Part 1: EverythingEdit

Evelyn Quan Wang is a Chinese-American woman who runs a struggling laundromat with her husband, Waymond. Tensions are high due to the laundromat being audited by the IRS. Additionally, Waymond is trying to give Evelyn divorce papers; Evelyn's demanding father, Gong Gong,[a] has just arrived from Hong Kong; and Evelyn's daughter, Joy, has been trying to get her mother to accept her girlfriend, Becky.

While at the IRS building for a meeting with IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdre, Waymond's personality changes when his body is briefly taken over by Alpha Waymond, a version of Waymond from a universe he calls the "Alphaverse". Alpha Waymond explains to Evelyn that many parallel universes exist, since every choice made creates a new universe. The people of the Alphaverse, led by the late Alpha Evelyn, developed "verse-jumping" technology that allows people to access the skills, memories, and body of their parallel universe counterparts by fulfilling specific conditions. The multiverse is being threatened by Jobu Tupaki, the Alphaverse version of Joy. Her mind was splintered after Alpha Evelyn pushed her to extensively verse-jump; Jobu Tupaki now experiences all universes at once and can verse-jump and manipulate matter at will. With her godlike power she has created a black hole–like "everything bagel"[b] that can potentially destroy the multiverse.

Evelyn is given verse-jumping technology to fight Jobu Tupaki's verse-jumping minions, who begin converging in the IRS building. Evelyn learns of Waymond's plans to divorce her and discovers other lives where she made different choices and flourished, such as by becoming a kung fu master and movie star instead of leaving China with Waymond, who becomes a successful businessman. Alpha Waymond comes to believe that Evelyn, as the greatest failure of all Evelyns of the multiverse, has the untapped potential to defeat Jobu Tupaki. Alpha Gong Gong instructs Evelyn to kill Joy to hinder Jobu Tupaki, but Evelyn refuses. She decides she must face Jobu Tupaki by gaining the same powers as her, so she verse-jumps repeatedly while battling Jobu Tupaki's minions and Alpha Gong Gong's soldiers. After the battle, Alpha Waymond is killed by Jobu Tupaki in the Alphaverse and Evelyn's mind overloads.

Part 2: EverywhereEdit

Evelyn's mind splinters and she discovers other, bizarre universes, including one in which humans have hot dogs for fingers and she is in a romantic relationship with Deirdre, and another where she works alongside a teppanyaki chef who is secretly puppeteered by a raccoon. She learns that Jobu Tupaki created the everything bagel not to destroy everything, but to destroy herself, and has been searching for an Evelyn who can understand her. Jobu Tupaki feels that because there are so many vast universes and unending chaos, nothing truly matters.

In other universes, the Wangs are about to lose the laundromat due to tax errors, and businessman Waymond rejects movie star Evelyn after decades apart. Evelyn is nearly swayed to Jobu Tupaki's cause and stabs her universe's Waymond. She almost joins Jobu Tupaki in entering the bagel, but stops when she hears Waymond's calls to be kind and have hope. Evelyn defeats Alpha Gong Gong and Jobu Tupaki's fighters by using her multiverse knowledge to find what is hurting each of them and gives them happiness. Evelyn reaches Jobu Tupaki and tells her that she is not alone and that Evelyn will always choose to be with her, despite everywhere else she could be. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Evelyn confronts Gong Gong and reconciles with Waymond and Joy, and Waymond convinces Deirdre to let the Wangs redo their taxes. Jobu Tupaki initially rejects Evelyn, but returns to her, and they embrace.

Part 3: All at OnceEdit

Shortly thereafter, the family's relationships and lives have improved; Becky is now regarded as a part of the family, Waymond and Evelyn share a brief but romantic moment for the first time in a long while, and they return to the IRS building on a second chance to file their taxes. As Deirdre talks, Evelyn's attention is momentarily drawn to her alternate selves and the multiverse, before she grounds herself back in her home universe.

CastEdit

  • Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Quan Wang, a dissatisfied and overwhelmed laundromat owner
  • Stephanie Hsu as Joy Wang / Jobu Tupaki, Evelyn and Waymond's daughter and a threat to the multiverse
  • Ke Huy Quan as Waymond Wang, Evelyn's meek and goofy husband
  • Jenny Slate as Debbie the Dog Mom / "Big Nose", a laundromat customer
    • The character's original name ("Big Nose") was changed for the film's digital release because of its association with Jewish stereotypes.[9]
  • Harry Shum Jr. as Chad, a teppanyaki chef working alongside Evelyn in an alternate universe
  • James Hong as Gong Gong (Chinese 公公, "maternal grandfather"),[10] Evelyn's demanding father
  • Jamie Lee Curtis as Deirdre Beaubeirdre, an IRS inspector

Additionally, Tallie Medel appears as Becky Sregor, Joy's girlfriend; Biff Wiff appears as Rick, a laundromat customer; Sunita Mani and Aaron Lazar appear as actors in a musical film Evelyn watches; Audrey Wasilewski and Peter Banifaz appear as Alpha RV Officers; Daniel Scheinert appears as District Manager; and Andy Le and Brian Le appear as Alpha Trophy Jumpers.

Randy Newman, who has scored nine DisneyPixar animated films, appears in an uncredited role as the voice of Raccacoonie, a reference to the Pixar-animated film Ratatouille (2007); he is officially credited as a featured artist on the track "Now We're Cookin'".[11] Dan Kwan has uncredited cameos as a man sucked into the bagel and a mugger.[12]

ProductionEdit

Development and writingEdit

Co-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert stated they began researching the concept of the multiverse in 2010, after being exposed to the concept of modal realism in the 1986 film Sherman's March.[8] Kwan described the release of the 2018 film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which also features a multiverse concept, as "a little upsetting because we were like, 'Oh shit, everyone's going to beat us to this thing we've been working on.'"[8] He also stated, "Watching the second season of Rick and Morty was really painful. I was like, 'They've already done all the ideas we thought were original!' It was a really frustrating experience. So I stopped watching Rick and Morty while we were writing this project."[8]

In early drafts, the directors planned for the main character to have undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); through his research for the project, Kwan learned that he himself had undiagnosed ADHD.[13]

The universe in which Evelyn trains in martial arts and becomes an action movie star features scenes visually and contextually inspired by the films of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai;[8] Chris Lee of Vulture wrote that these scenes "conjur[e] a mood of exquisite romantic yearning that will be instantly recognizable [...] as touchstones" of Wong's works.[8] The universe in which Evelyn and Joy are rocks was influenced by the 1969 children's book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and the 2017 video game Everything.[8]

Kwan stated that the idea of the everything bagel created by Jobu Tupaki "started as just a throwaway joke."[8] Scheinert noted that they spent time attempting to develop the religion of bagel followers, but encountered complications: "[Jobu Tupaki]'s a nihilist; should there be dogma? Should there be a book? What should their practices be as a religion? The bagel stuck because it became such a useful, simple symbol that we could point to as filmmakers. And you don't have to explain it much beyond the joke."[8]

CastingEdit

 
Everything Everywhere All at Once marked Ke Huy Quan's return to acting since his retirement in 2002.

During pre-production, Jackie Chan was considered for the starring role; the script was originally written for him before Kwan and Scheinert changed their minds and re-conceived the lead role as a woman, feeling it would make the husband-wife dynamic in the story more relatable.[6]

When the script was initially rewritten with the lead character as a woman, the character was renamed "Michelle Wang"; according to Michelle Yeoh, "If you ask the Daniels, when they started on this draft, they focused on, 'Well, we are doing this for Michelle Yeoh.'"[14] The character's name was ultimately changed to Evelyn; despite the parallels in the final film between Yeoh and the universe in which Evelyn is a martial artist and movie star,[15] Yeoh opposed naming the character Michelle, stating that "She is not called Michelle because [...] Evelyn deserves her own story to be told. This is a very ordinary mother [and] housewife who is trying her best to be a good mother to her daughter, a good daughter to her father, a wife that's trying to keep the family together [...] I don't like to integrate me, Michelle Yeoh, into the characters that I play, because they all deserve their own journey and their stories to be told."[15]

It was announced in August 2018 that Yeoh and Awkwafina were cast to star in an "interdimensional action film" from Kwan and Scheinert, with Anthony and Joe Russo set to produce.[16] Awkwafina exited the project due to scheduling conflicts in January 2020. Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis joined the cast, with Hsu replacing Awkwafina. It marked Quan's return to film acting, from which he had retired in 2002 due to a lack of casting opportunities.[17][18]

FilmingEdit

Filming began in January 2020, with A24 announcing it would finance and distribute the film.[19] Principal photography concluded in early March 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.[20]

ThemesEdit

Everything Everywhere All at Once incorporates elements from a number of genres and film mediums, including black comedy, science fiction, fantasy, martial arts film, and animation.[21][22] A. O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as a "swirl of genre anarchy", explaining that "while the hectic action sequences and flights of science-fiction mumbo-jumbo are a big part of the fun (and the marketing), they aren't really the point. [The movie is] a bittersweet domestic drama, a marital comedy, a story of immigrant striving and a hurt-filled ballad of mother-daughter love."[23]

The film explores the concepts of the meaning of life and nihilism; according to Charles Bramesco of The Guardian, "The bagel of doom and its tightening grip on Evelyn's daughter lend themselves to the climactic declaration that there's nothing worse than submitting to the nihilism so trendy with the next generation. Our lone hope of recourse is to embrace all the love and beauty surrounding us, if only we're present enough to see it."[24] This nihilism is also explored through the film's exploration of Asian-American identity. Anne Anlin Cheng wrote in The Washington Post, "It's not only that the multiverse acts as a metaphor for the immigrant Asian American experience, or a convenient parable for the dislocations and personality splits suffered by hyphenated (that is, "Asian-American") citizens. It also becomes a rather heady vehicle for confronting and negotiating Asian-pessimism," a term she uses in reference to Afro-pessimism.[25]

Consequence's Clint Worthington wrote that, "for all its dadaist absurdism and blink-if-you-miss-it pace, Daniels weaves the chaotic possibilities into the multiverse into a cohesive story about the aches and pains of the road not traveled, and the need to carve out your own meaning in a meaningless universe."[26] Describing Jobu Tupaki's modus operandi, Worthington notes "the living contradiction that is the everything bagel: if you put everything on a bagel, what more is left? And if you've experienced everything that the multiverse can offer, what's the point of any of it?"[26] Co-director Daniel Kwan stated that the everything bagel concept "did two things. It allowed us to talk about nihilism without being too eye roll-y. And it creates a MacGuffin: a doomsday device. If in the first half of the movie, people think that the bagel is here to destroy the world, and in the second half you realize it's a depressed person trying to destroy themselves; it just takes everything about action movies and turns it into something more personal."[8]

The film engages textually and metatextually with the "real world" of the viewer.[27][28] Critics have noted that one version of Evelyn—a famous martial arts movie star—is a portrayal of Yeoh herself,[28][5][29] that Ke Huy Quan's experience as a stunt coordinator is used diegetically in Waymond's fight scenes,[30] and that James Hong's transformation into "a more sinister, English-fluent, Machiavellian strategist" parallels his character Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China (1986).[27][31]

MusicEdit

 
Experimental band Son Lux composed the film's score.

The musical score was composed by Son Lux, whose members are Ryan Lott, Ian Chang, and Rafiq Bhatia.[32] Daniels asked them to approach the score individually, and not as a band. Lott said, "I think that the complete picture of not only who we are as a band, but also who we are as individuals and what we have accomplished and the places we've gone creatively individually, meant for them that there was a possibility that many of these universes of sound could be within reach with this particular trio".[33]

Son Lux took two to three years to compose the score, which includes more than 100 musical cues.[34] The soundtrack album has 49 pieces and runs for more than two hours. It features several prominent musicians,[35] including Mitski, David Byrne, a flute-playing André 3000, Randy Newman, Moses Sumney, and yMusic.[36][11] Two songs—"This Is a Life" featuring Mitski and Byrne[37] and "Fence" featuring Sumney—were released as singles on March 4 and 14, 2022.[38] The album was released on March 25 to positive critical response.[39][40]

ReleaseEdit

TheatricalEdit

Everything Everywhere All at Once had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival on March 11, 2022.[41] It had a limited release in theaters on March 25, 2022,[42] followed by a nationwide release on April 8, in the United States by A24.[43] On March 30, 2022, the film was released in select IMAX theaters in the U.S. for one night only. Due to the popularity of the film, it returned to select IMAX theaters for one week starting on April 29, 2022.[44][45] The film was not released in most parts of the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait due to censorship of LGBT issues in those countries.[46] The film was released in the United Kingdom on May 13, 2022.[47] The film was scheduled to be re-released in US theaters on July 29, 2022, unchanged but adding an introduction by the Daniels and eight minutes of outtakes after the credits.[48][49]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on digital streaming platforms on June 7, 2022, and was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultra HD Blu-ray on July 5, 2022, by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.[50][51]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of August 4, 2022, Everything Everywhere All at Once had grossed $69.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $31.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $100.5 million.[3][4]

In the United States and Canada, it earned $509,600 from ten venues in its opening weekend. Its debut had a theater average of $50,965, the second-best since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for a platform release (behind Licorice Pizza), and the then-best opening theater average in 2022.[52] In its second weekend, the film grossed $1.1 million from 38 theaters, finishing ninth at the box office.[53] It received a wide expansion in its third weekend, going from 38 to 1,250 theaters.[54][55] It made $6.1 million, finishing sixth at the box office.[56][57] Playing in 2,220 theaters the following weekend, it earned $6.2 million, finishing fourth.[58] In its sixth weekend, it added $5.5 million, part of which was attributed to a wider IMAX release following its successful box office run up to that point.[21] It added $3.5 million in its seventh weekend,[59] and another $3.3 million in its eighth.[60] By May 21 it had made over $51 million, surpassing Uncut Gems ($50 million) as A24's highest-grossing film domestically.[61] By June 9 it had made over $80 million, surpassing Hereditary ($79 million) as A24's highest-grossing film of all time.[62] It remained in the box office top ten before dropping out in its sixteenth weekend (ending on July 10).[63] On July 31, the film crossed the $100 million mark worldwide, the first independent film of the pandemic and in A24's history to do so.[64]

Outside of the U.S., other top-earning territories as of July 31 were: the United Kingdom ($6.2 million), Canada ($5.1 million), Australia ($4.5 million), Russia ($2.4 million), Taiwan ($2.3 million), Mexico ($2 million), Hong Kong ($1.7 million), Germany ($1.5 million), and the Netherlands ($1.1 million).[64]

Critical responseEdit

 
Many critics called Michelle Yeoh's performance the best of her career.

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 321 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. The website's consensus reads, "Led by an outstanding Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once lives up to its title with an expertly calibrated assault on the senses."[65] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 81 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[66] Audiences polled by PostTrak gave it an 89% positive score, with 77% saying they would definitely recommend it.[56]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire called it an "orgiastic work of slaphappy genius", praising the direction and performances, particularly Yeoh's.[67] The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney called it a "frenetically plotted serve of stoner heaven [that] is insanely imaginative and often a lot of fun", complimenting the cast and score but found the handling of the story's underlying theme underwhelming.[68] In her review for RogerEbert.com, Marya E. Gates commended Yeoh's performance, writing "Yeoh is the anchor of the film, given a role that showcases her wide range of talents, from her fine martial art skills to her superb comic timing to her ability to excavate endless depths of rich human emotion often just from a glance or a reaction."[69] Charles Bramesco, writing for The Guardian, complimented the Daniels for constructing a "large, elaborate, polished and detailed expression of a vision".[24] Amy Nicholson of The Wall Street Journal wrote: "Over its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time, the movie's ambitions double, and double again, as though its a petri dish teeming with Mr. Kwan and Mr. Scheinert's wildest ideas."[7]

In her review for Vanity Fair, Maureen Ryan highlighted Yeoh's performance, writing "Yeoh imbues Evelyn with moving shades of melancholy, regret, resolve and growing curiosity" and adding she "makes her embrace of lead-character energy positively gripping".[70] Adam Nayman of The Ringer referred to the film as "a love letter to Yeoh" adding, "Everything Everywhere All At Once is extremely poignant, giving its 59-year-old star a chance to flex unexpected acting muscles while revisiting the high-flying fight choreography that made her a global icon back in the 1990s."[71] In his review for Chicago Sun-Times, Jake Coyle wrote that though Everything Everywhere "can verge on overload, it's this liberating sense of limitless possibility that the movie leaves you filled with, both in its freewheeling anything-goes playfulness and in its surprisingly tender portrait of existential despair."[72] Letterboxd announced that it had briefly become the top rated film of all time on the site, surpassing The Godfather and Parasite.[73] As of July 2022, it still remains in the top 10.[74]

AccoladesEdit

Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
SXSW Film Festival March 2022 Adobe Editing Award Paul Rogers Won [75]
Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Film Awards July 1, 2022 Best Picture Everything Everywhere All at Once Won [76]
Best Director Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert Won
Best Actress Michelle Yeoh Won
Best Supporting Actor Ke Huy Quan Won
Best Supporting Actress Jamie Lee Curtis Nominated
Stephanie Hsu Won
Best Screenplay Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert Won
Best Indie Film Everything Everywhere All at Once Won

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Chinese: "maternal grandfather" (see 公公)
  2. ^ A play on a type of bagel called an "everything bagel", which is baked with a large variety of toppings; in the film, the "everything bagel" is topped with "literally everything"[7] in the multiverse and appears as a pulsating toroid singularity.[8]

ReferencesEdit

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