Everything Everywhere All at Once: Michelle Yeoh's hilarious, mind-bending, existential crisis is exactly what we need

The Daniels knocked it out of the park with this unruly sci-fi adventure worth its runtime.

Everything Everywhere All at Once Michelle Yeoh
(Image: © Courtesy of A24)

What to Watch Verdict

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a chaotic thrill ride everyone should experience


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    Brilliant comedic timing, fluid action sequences, vibrant color scheme and set composition

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    Yeoh’s most nuanced and well-rounded character

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    Stephani Hsu’s Joy is a master-class in sociopathic duality

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    The absurdity of it all makes the story's central themes hit

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    that much harder


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    A few of the flashback/time jumps could’ve been longer…

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    [yes, I hear what I'm saying]

Every good story is built on relatable struggles — an interesting world presented slightly askew and/or colorful characters to root for… or against. When it's time for the extraordinary to happen, those building blocks rooted in the ordinary become vital. So, a sci-fi adventure that wants to be great needs those emotional connections made early and effectively. Thankfully writers/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man), aka the Daniels, appreciate these often neglected elements. They’ve grounded their latest project, Everything Everywhere All at Once, so well that when that fantastical turn happens, it's literally — and ridiculously — out of nowhere.

Proving not every story about the fate of the world needs an extinction-level meteor [we're looking at you Moonfall and Don't Look Up], Everything Everywhere All at Once is a stunningly ambitious journey into sci-fi/fantasy’s joyfully chaotic heart. It offers up an adventure into a multiverse that never takes itself so seriously it forgets to deliver a thrillingly unhinged visual spectacle full of self-deprecating humor. As an added bonus, the film pulls it off without once sacrificing the story’s emotional core. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once follows a Chinese American woman through a stressful, but largely uneventful, day. Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) just wants to get her tax documents in order. She and her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), are in the midst of an audit with an IRS agent (Jamie Lee Curtis) who’ll determine their business’ fate.

Evelyn’s bogged down and exhausted. She’s drifted into that place in her head where a never-ending "to-do" list lives. She’s planning a Chinese New Years’ party, dealing with customers in their laundromat, taking care of her disapproving father and side-stepping a conversation with her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), who wants to introduce Becky (Tallie Medel) her girlfriend of three years to her grandfather (James Hong). 

Evelyn spends so much time worrying about overlapping tasks that her husband can barely get a word in edgewise and her daughter’s all but given up on their relationship. There’s nothing remarkable about Evelyn. It’s about as unadventurous an opening as you can get. So when a character suddenly turns into a martial arts master laying waste to a slew of security guards, you’ll eagerly suspend belief for the absolutely absurd, topsy-turvy multi-dimensional thrill ride to come.

Asian American Family sitting next to each other facing a desk covered in papers

(L-R) Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, James Hong in Everything Everywhere All at Once (Image credit: Photo Credit: Courtesy of A24)

For a duo best known for leaning into the peculiar, the Daniels more than handle the task of digging into the familial dynamic of the Wangs. Everything’s script is thematically rich, philosophically nuanced, with characters truly crafted with care. The overall effect is an emotionally complex and detailed narrative about generational angst, failure, homophobia, unfulfilled dreams and choosing the good. 

But don’t worry, the film’s philosophical bent comes with a good helping of boldly stylized visuals, sharp banter, quirky time jumps, balletic action sequences and unabashedly joyful references to cross-genre predecessors like, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the works of Wong Kar-wai. The end result is exuberant storytelling and precise, fluid yet tantalizingly relatable fight choreography. If the movie's editor, Paul Rogers, isn’t up for an end-of-year award, the fix is definitely in. 

Asian woman dressed in traditional outfight facing off against sword-wielding assailant

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once (Image credit: Photo Credit: Allyson Riggs. Courtesy of A24)

The Daniels capitalize on Yeoh’s myriad of talents beyond the physical, to highlight Evelyn’s strengths and weaknesses both as wife and mother — and as the multiverse’s highly unlikely savior. Evelyn’s at turns brow-beaten, abrasive, absent-minded, short-sighted, fragile, dejected, unsure and emotionally withdrawn. 

For those unfamiliar with her extensive career prior to Crazy Rich Asians, Yeoh’s sharp comedic timing, quirks and emotional range may come as a surprise. Between her highly engaging portrayal and her mesmerizing action sequences, Evelyn may just prove to be Yeoh’s most compelling character to date. 

But Yeoh isn’t carrying this film on her own. She leads a talent-rich ensemble in bringing this messy madcap adventure to life. Everything is a perfect blend of lawful good and chaotic good personality types pitted against a nihilist intent on driving existence towards nothingness offered with none of the pretentiousness many philosophical narratives fall victim to. 

Ke Huy Quan (The Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) returns to acting after 10 years mostly behind the scenes as the gentle, soft-hearted Waymond —desperate to reconnect with his wife and save their marriage. James Hong (Turning Red, Big Trouble in Little China) plays Yeoh’s sullen father with aplomb and notable snark. Their comedic timing, physical prowess and ability to switch emotional gears on a dime make following a plot that could easily fly off the rails easy and absorbing. They're both responsible for a significant number of the film's most random laughs, while also acting as straight men for some of its screwiest moments. 

In what’s sure to be a breakout role, Stephanie Hsu (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) plays Yeoh’s lesbian daughter, Joy, with a raw emotional openness that juxtaposes perfectly with her twisted downward spiral as this story unfolds. Hsu gives the right energy to every moment on screen, at turns bolstering the absurd or yanking everyone back to reality. 

While the plot weaves Evelyn’s unsteady relationships with each of the other characters throughout the three acts, it's the mother-daughter dynamic that pushes the story forward and breathes life into its themes. Yeoh and Hsu's chemistry as they play alternating facets of themselves is undeniable. It’s almost impossible to dig into how well these two play off one another without spoiling, so suffice to say the schism of not being able to reconcile oneself to one’s lot in life enough to see the point to anything is enough to set off a devastating ripple effect throughout the multiverse. 

Life’s ultimately the sum total of all the causes and effects that could ever be. Even for those who tend to miss this nuance in comic-book based film’s, Everything Everywhere All at Once offers a multiverse tale certain to resonate.  

Everything Everywhere All at Once is on full release in theaters in the US on April 8 (UK date still TBD). 

Ro Moore

Ro is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film/tv critic, writer and host on several of the MTR Network's podcasts. She's a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Online Association of Female Film Critics. She's a former culture columnist for San Diego CityBeat (may it rest in peace) with a serious addiction to genre fiction, horror and documentaries. You can find her sharing movie and book recs and random thoughts, on her podcast I Talk Sh!t and Read or in her newsletter, Shelf Envy.