“Everything Everywhere All at Once”: a fascinatingly bizarre exploration of familial values and the meaning of life

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Michelle Yeoh stars in the newest A24 production “Everything Everywhere All the Time”. Photo is free use via Wikimedia Commons

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”, the newest production from renowned movie studio A24, has captivated audiences worldwide – not just for its infamous lead actress Michelle Yeoh, but also because of its original and extraordinarily creative elements, from sausage fingers to racacouille to talking rocks. Indeed, the movie’s bizarre plotline and eccentric characters do not fit the movie palate of a general audience. However, despite the film’s eccentricity, I find it to be a fascinatingly original piece that speaks deeply about religion, family values, and our current society.

The film revolves around Evelyn Wang, a Chinese American immigrant who runs a failing laundromat with her jovial and charismatic husband, Waymond. The pair struggle to pay off their taxes, along with other responsibilities, leaving Evelyn with constant, weighty stress upon her shoulders. But things take a strange turn when she runs into an alternate version of Waymond, who warns her of a great evil gripping the universe that only she can destroy. Thrust into the role of the unlikely hero, Evelyn goes on a fantastical, humorous, yet incredibly existential romp through the multiverse, building up skills and experience to defeat this dark, evil power that goes by the name Jobu Tobaki.

The movie’s exploration of the multiverse in particular ties in beautifully to its overall existentialist messages. Essentially, the concept is that for every action a person takes, a diverging set of possibilities gets created, each of which branches off into a new universe. With the butterfly effect, different combinations of choices could eventually lead to vastly different outcomes. If this is the case, then why does anything matter at all? The significance of our actions and our existence as a whole seems so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. The film does an excellent job at exploring this philosophy, pitting each characters’ existentialist and nihilist world views against one another to bridge a gap between its grander and more intimate thematic explorations.

This film is a superhero movie, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a beautifully messy, irresistibly eclectic amalgamation of genres and moods. And while the usual spiel of “you’re the only one who can save our universe from this terrible monster” does pop up, everything that follows is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s as if the film director tried to subvert every audience expectation at every turn possible: “oh yeah you’ve seen this before? Well, have you ever seen it done like THIS?” 

With references to classics like “Ratatouille” and “2001: a Space Odyssey” to Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love”, this film demonstrates genre diversity at its best. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder about the meaning of existence, and in the end, you’ll hopefully leave the theater with a refreshingly new perspective on life.