Media Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Summarizing “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a near impossible task, but this text from my friend almost sums it up: “It’s, like, sci-fi and parallel universes, but also cultural stuff.” It tells the story of Chinese immigrant Evelyn, who uses her newfound powers of interdimensional travel to embark on a mission to save the world. I went into the movie with high expectations, as critics lauded the unique but touching nature of the movie, but came out disappointed.

One of the movie’s strengths is its excellent portrayal of an immigrant family struggling to navigate major cultural differences, which manifests in Evelyn and her daughter Joy’s rocky relationship. Evelyn uses her father’s traditional, old-fashioned nature as an excuse to not accept her daughter’s gay identity. Authentic moments of miscommunication, cultural division, and existential crises ensue.

On the other hand, sillier scenes detract from the emotional depth of the movie. Suddenly, Evelyn is transported to worlds where humans have sausages for fingers and people gain martial arts skills by sticking objects up their asses. These scenes, although amusing to juvenile audiences like my little brother, feel out of place in a movie acclaimed for its emotional depth. Every time Evelyn and Joy try taking steps towards mending their relationship, they’re yanked into another world with lasers, glitter, or something equally absurd. The emotional aspects of the film feel inauthentic and unearned, thrust into the plot for the sake of touching audiences. 

“The emotional aspects of the film feel inauthentic and unearned, thrust into the plot for the sake of touching audiences.

The mad succession of events also contributes to a lack of suspense in the film. Every sequence of silly, consequence-free activity instantly getting mitigated by a switch into another universe means that nothing is actually at stake, and I didn’t find myself becoming truly invested in any storylines or conflicts as a result. 

Simple awe factor can only carry a film for so long, and the rapid succession of events begins to feel tiring. There is no build-up, no time to contemplate characters’ struggles; from start to finish, the movie is an action-packed whirlwind. To some, this quick pace may be appealing, but to me, it was just a distraction.