Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
This much lauded hotchpotch of absurdist humour and narrative chaos starts out promisingly by introducing us to a Chinese-American family who run a laundromat and are being audited by the IRS. Once we meet the IRS inspector Deirdre (wonderfully played by Jamie Lee Curtis), the film launches its concept of several simultaneously existing multiverses, and how our protagonists have learned to jump between them in order to fight that eternal battle between good and evil. Welcome to another childish toying with simple superhero themes and antagonisms.
Although the filmmakers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as the "Daniels") do exhibit some visual creativity, all of the film's originality lies in the influx of images, atmospheres, and colours, not in its fiddling with philosophical or narrative concepts. The film's endless clashes, verse-jumps and attempts at explaining itself make this a longwinded and meandering experience. And the repetitive fights, which in all fairness make up most of the film's running time, are overchoreographed and unorganic. They never feel like happening to or having anything to do with human beings – and thus end up feeling irrelevant. Instead, Everything Everywhere All at Once becomes a martial arts extravaganza for the less athletically inclined – in a giddy, self-regulating movie world where you can jump between (uni)verses and deploy magically trained versions of yourself for various seemingly brainstormed purposes, with endless access to eccentric costumes and flickering projections.
Everything Everywhere may seem ambitious and complex – mostly just for the sake of it – but it never is emotionally or narratively. There is such a laziness hidden in the film's onrush of imagery that you're likely to be offended by it – unless, of course, you let yourself be impressed by the emperor's new clothes. And the attempted comedy which is scattered around here and there resembles that of the National Lampoon movies from the 80s and 90s – which were mostly lambasted to an extent that Everything Everywhere also should have been. One highlight: A silent conversation between two rocks in a desert.