Everything, Everywhere, All at Once – REVIEW

I’m not going to beat around the bush with any hyperbole or teasing this time around. I simply wanted to say that we need more films like this one. Films born from passion, meticulously crafted and smartly executed that reminds us how impactful the power of film can really be. We may only be a third of the way through the year, but I do have confidence in this: Everything, Everywhere, All at Once may just be the best film of the year.

Directed by the directing duo known as The Daniels, who we last saw made a film about a farting corpse that could do anything, the film follows Evelyn Wang, a mother, wife and laundromat owner finding herself between a rock and a hard place. Her relationship with her daughter is strained, the spark between her husband and herself is all but gone, and her small business is about to be audited by the IRS. And if that wasn’t enough, she is suddenly visited by her husband from an alternate universe, warning her of a terrible evil threatening to consume the entire multiverse, and only she can save all of reality. From there, the film never pumps the brakes, thrusting you into an exciting, crazy, heartwarming adventure across time and space. 

(from left to right) Stephanie Hsu as Joy, Michelle Youh as Evelyn, and Ke Huy Quan as Waymond.

How do you even begin to describe this movie? At its core it’s heavily sci-fi, but it’s also a drama, a comedy, and a kung-fu action flick. It truly lives up to the “everything” in the title, yet never buckles under the weight of carrying all these different themes or genres. It manages to have all the action of a big budget-blockbuster while coinciding with a deeply touching and relatable look at family, expectations, lost potential and deep-rooted cynicism. And hot dog fingers.

The cast does an extraordinary job at not only carrying the emotional weight of the film, but also bringing levity through comedy and thrills through impressively choreographed fight scenes. Michelle Youh’s Eveyln is a fantastic underdog to follow, with authentic character progression that never feels forced. She does such a fantastic job as a fish out of water during this multiverse madness, who’s journey of honing her skills is just as incredible as her story of reconnecting with her family and finding meaning in the big, scary universe. Ke Huy Quan as Evyln’s husband Waymond is both sincerely sweet and entertainingly badass, delivering not only some of the best action sequences in the film, but some of the most touching, heartfelt moments between him and Evyln. He is more or less the emotional core of the movie, facing each hardship his family and himself face with kindness, optimism, and a nose-busting fanny pack. Rounding out the cast is Jamie Lee Curtis as the no-nonsense, occassionally demented IRS inspector Diedre, who definitely seems to be having a blast roaring like an animal and hitting pro-wrestling moves, and Stephanie Hsu as Evyln’s cynical daughter, Joy, who brings a lot of sorrow to the film due to her struggles with generational trauma and old-fashioned expecatations.

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Once the multiverse aspect gets introduced, the film becomes nothing short of contained anarchy. Multiverses are hot right now, evident by the latest Spider-Man movie, but unlike that movie this story doesn’t rely on pre-established characters and concepts. It balances the chaos incredibly well by not letting itself be bogged down by the hows and whys. The intricacies of how the sci-fi works doesn’t always have to make the most sense, it just has to be consistent throughout the film and it has to be intriguing, and you better believe it’s intriguing as hell. It allows the film to tap into so many different genres and presentations, building one big love letter to film in the process with clever references and stylistic similarities from Ratatouille to In the Mood for Love. We see aspect ratio changes, color palette changes, and even full on medium changes. Sometimes the film struggles to move onto the next moment, but I can’t say I was ever unengaged for a second. In lesser hands this film could have been cluttered, inconsistent and disjointed, but the Daniels have done what I believe few directors could hope to achieve. Finding balance amidst all the chaos, which is a fantastic analogy for the story in the film itself.

When we become aware how big our universe is, it’s hard not to feel like we don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. How can one being possibly make a difference among the millions of billions of realities? With everything happening in the world today, cynicism is potentially more potent than ever, where we struggle to reason with this nonsensical world we live in. But this film reminds us of the purposes we find that keeps us going. The people we love. The passions that drive us. Yes the universe is massive, but there are millions of little universes we exist in everyday, free to take risks, get messy, and royally screw up. But there is always time to change things, times to start again. Nothing matters, yet everything matters. The film doesn’t try to answer any profound questions of the universe, but it does remind us that we are all just as lost and confused as everyone else, so why not go through this together with love and care? Somehow a film with talking raccoons and fights involving buttplugs manages to encapsulate all of the joy and anguish we feel throughout our lives, crafting it into a highly original story that will make you laugh as much as it makes you cry, sometimes all at once. In a sea of soulless cinema, it’s rare for a movie like this to get made with as much love and care as this one. It gives me hope that movies will continue to be driven by passion over profit, so please do not let this one slip under your radar. It might be too early to tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this film remains the best movie of the year, because it may take a miracle to beat this one.

This is nothing short of a triumph that deserves to be seen by everyone, everywhere, as soon as you can.

Rating

(out of a possible 5 googly eyes)

The Everything Cocktail

So, how can you possibly cover the entire spectrum of flavors and still make a palatable drink? The short answer is…you can’t. Not really. Some flavors just do not work alongside one another. Sure it would have been easy to throw sour, savory, spicy, smokey elements into a drink and call it a day, but it’s very likely the end flavor result would be equivalent to putting a straw in the garbage disposal and taking a big sip. So I took my pondering to the internet, searching for a cocktail with enough complexity to best represent this film. I did come across a cocktail called the Commonwealth, which consists of, and I’m not kidding, 71 different ingredients from all around the world. Would that have been cool to try to make? Sure. Would it have been cost effective? Hell no. But what I figured out is that there was a perfectly complex cocktail hiding right under my nose the entire time, and that is the Blood Mary. 

If you think about all of the components that go into a Blood Mary, you’ll realize that the drink covers a very wide range of flavors that can be easily identified. So, it seemed like a no brainer to do my own riff on a Bloody Mary for this cocktail, but there’s just one problem: I hate Bloody Marys. It’s one of the most recognizable cocktails in America and I can’t stand them, which is mostly chalked up to the fact that I am not a big fan of tomatoes, so a drink with a primarily tomato juice base just doesn’t do it for me. So I had to figure out how I was going to make this cocktail without the most recognizable key ingredient, and I think I have it. 

For this drink I have made my own homemade juice of things I like that I think will give a similar experience to tomato juice as well as giving the drink further complexity. This juice includes red bell pepper, lemon, ginger and carrots, mimicking the savory nature of a Blood Mary but adding my own twist to it. A juicer is highly recommended for making this, but a blender could work if you are fine with a little extra skin and pulp. I’ve also removed the vodka and instead replaced it with mezcal, bringing an additional smokiness to the drink that pairs itself wonderfully with the ingredients from the spice cabinet. Finally, to make the drink one with the movie, I have rimmed the glass with everything bagel seasoning to bring a hint of salt, pepper and onion to each sip, as well as garnishing the drinks with mini-hot dogs to turn the cocktail into a straight up meal. You’ll experience a range of flavors with this one, so strap in and hold on tight as your mouth is bounced through a multitude of tastes from across the universe.

And don’t forget to stock up on googly eyes to decorate your glass!

Ingredients

  • 2oz mezcal
  • 4oz red pepper juice (2 red bell peppers, 4 carrots, 1 red apple, 1/2 lemon, 1 piece of ginger)
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • 1 pinch smoked paprika
  • Rim: Everything bagel seasoning
  • Garnish: Little Smokies sausages

Instructions

  1. Before making the drink, rub the rim of your drinking glass with a lemon or lime wedge, then coat the rim of the glass with everything bagel seasoning.
  2. Add ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice.
  3. Pour into prepared glass over ice.
  4. Garnished with skewered sausages.

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