The Absurd Magic of “Everything Everywhere All At Once”


Everything Everywhere All At Once is a mind-boggling title for an adventurous and unhinged film that explores family, fate, and the absurd with creativity, chaos, and everything in between.

The idea of a multiverse has increasingly captivated modern pop culture, a sci-fi frenzy encouraged by the success of Marvel films such as Spiderman No-Way-Home and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Produced with a fraction of the budget as these Marvel films by production company A24, Everywhere All At Once expands the frontiers of film while exploring the frontiers of science-fiction and human connection. 

At its core, the film follows a Chinese-American immigrant, Evelyn Wang, as she struggles to maintain her laundromat business amidst the tension of her strained relationship with her daughter and impending divorce from her husband. Plagued with regret about the lives she could have led by making different choices, Evelyn is suddenly swept away from her seemingly mundane life. In a frenzied scene of movement and confusion, she is quickly thrust into an interdimensional adventure to save the multiverse in which she must channel newfound powers to defeat a mysterious evil threat.

Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu portray a hurt-filled family on an emotional roller coaster of adventure through alternate universes.

It’s clearly a lot, best described as a whirlpool of emotion that gives audiences something to laugh, wonder and cry about often all at once. While it’s marketed as a borderline science-fiction film that explores the possibility of a multiverse, the truth is that Everything Everywhere All At Once explores the possibility of, well, everything. After the film establishes the backgrounds and unique habits of each family member, it continues at unapologetic and overwhelming lightspeed. The chaotic plot is as intricate and layered as its driving characters. 

Michelle Yeoh’s performance brings both intense emotion and perfect comedic timing to Evelyn Wang as she experiences alternate timelines where she becomes a Hibachi chef, martial artist, opera singer, and a literal rock. As Evelyn struggles to connect with her disapproving father and accept her daughter’s sexuality, Yeoh manages to communicate the complicated nature of regret and the generational divide with finesse. Evelyn’s daughter Joy, played by Stephanie Hsu, also delivers a stellar performance that conveys the pressure and resentment wrought by a perfectionist mother with impossible standards. Likewise, Waymond Wang portrayed by Ke Huy Quan, adds a uniquely endearing quality to his role as Evelyn’s empathetic yet often hopelessly optimistic husband – a crucial aspect to the film’s message on the value of combatting existential nihilism with kindness. Shorecrest junior Lisa Gasper writes, “Everything Everywhere All At Once really showcases the generational pressure of many Asian families and the challenges Asian immigrants face in America.” 

An alternate version of the main character, Evelyn, uses her newfound powers in martial arts to defeat the multiverse’s greatest threat.

Everything Everywhere All At Once has become one of the most highly rated movies of 2022 with a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.5/10 on IMDb. Many critics refer to it as a once-in-a-lifetime breath of fresh air in the film industry as it takes inspiration from the genres of science-fiction, romance, comedy, and drama. The film masterfully touches on modern topics such as immigration, fate, teenage angst, complicated family relationships, the burden of choice, and generational trauma, while including valuable Asian and LGBTQ+ representation.

Beyond simply containing a phenomenal plot and cast, Everything Everywhere All At Once is revolutionary in its editing and special effects. While many films today repeat the same safe format, this film took a risk to introduce something new; It incorporated a speaking raccoon, pinky karate, googly eyes, sentient rocks, hot dog fingers, and a levitating bagel as integral elements of the film that make sense only in the context of the plot. Student Angela Mayoya noted, “the special effects and graphics were different from other movies…they used a lot of colors and flashes which captured the essence of everything happening all at once.” 

True to its title, Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of a kind and ingenious in its form. Junior Lyra Beebe believes what makes the film stand out is its cinematography and maximalism: “It was loud, funny, and random while still being impactful, beautifully cohesive, and heart-wrenching. It tackled such a huge concept without overwhelming the audience. It’s the best multiverse movie I’ve ever seen.” By combining humor and shock-value scenes that are sure to give you whiplash, Everything Everywhere All At Once makes a powerful and impossible-to-ignore statement on the quest to find meaning in the absurd nature of human existence.