This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Andrew Black’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Astoundingly original. Throroughly absurd and inventive, but always consistent to its own rules. It makes the most out of its premise, and filling it with emotion and reflectiveness.
Now, I will admit. I am very much a sucker for absurdist comedy. So, even if it often feels like it's too much, it still worked for me. Like, yeah, sure, the doomsday device bagel really got me rolling with laughter. Of course it did. Also the idea of acts of random that create tangents to other universes, and its execution, is just absolutely hilarious. And those - almost every time - lead to a phenomenally coreographed martial arts action sequence that uses its environment expertly. But maybe the best gags are the explorations of the zaniest alternative universes. The two rocks having a philosophical conversation. The hot dog fingers. The piñatas. It achieves a dadaistic effect of insane randomized humor, like if Monty Python got Tristan Traza to write one of their screenplays.
And look, if that still doesn't convince you, and you call for a testament to the originality of this film, look no further than the credits swerve. My father was legitimately getting up, and was ready to leave. I had to tell him to wait because there was no way that was it. Everything I know about storytelling told me that it was impossible for the movie to end there. I knew it couldn't be. Heck, it was on-screen! The names credited were of characters, not of performers! But it had been so original, so zany, so chaotic until that point, that in the heat of the moment, in those few seconds between the "The End" and the cut back to the cinema, it managed to make me question it. It took me to that place of excitement and complete immersion, and that's when I knew, it was something really special.
It makes perfect use of its references as well. The visual echoes of Wong Kar-Wai and the Shaw Brothers Kung Fu films for different universes. The 2001 opening with sausages for fingers. The Ratatouille sub-plot, which was marvellous. Every single one of those serves a purpose and makes sense within the context.
And somehow, some way, in the midst of all of its absurd action, comedy, references, Sci-Fi nonsense and even fantasy, it still manages to be completely infused with emotion, beautiful character journeys and thematic resonance. The nihilistic reality of Jobu Tupaki, and her idea of ultimate truth confronting her mother's overload of work, responsibility and pessimisim, and that confronting her father's ultimate optimism. And the fact that they reach the same conclusion - Nothing matters - but have different interpretations of it is really thought-enticing, and also incredibly life-affirming.
And with a phenomenal ensemble, this gets an emotion boost from each and every performance. Michelle Yeoh is fantastic in making confusion, burnout and sadness extremely convincing. James Hong is still in full form, bringing the best out of both versions of the character, with fierce intensity and slow old man sweetness in perfect contrast. Jamie Lee Curtis disappears into the arrogant, almost unlikeable tax worker. Stephanie Hsu nails both the empty, exhausted expressions of Jobu Tupaki and the heavy emotions of Joy. And in what is arguably the best (and unquestionably my favorite) performance of the movie, Ke Huy Quan puts on a slobberknocker of excitement, sentiment, goofiness and adorable earnestness. His voicework and expressive facial game is simply amazing. Save the Data, cause Short Round is back, bay bay!
Technically wise, it's also really creative. Playing with the aspect ratios in the way that it did is clearly the highlight here, creating an even more chaotic and high-octaned visual experience. The textures and colors being slightly different for each universe is also a big plus. The visual effects are really well-made too, blending in extremely well, even being the most absurd things. And, of course, the editing is nothing short of fantastic, jumping back and forth between universes, times and perspectives.
Look, it's not perfect. It has its pacing issues, and in an issue that feels quite endemic to Multiverse media in general, it's often so overstuffed with information and concepts that it feels on the verge of crumbling under its own weight. And why shouldn't it be? The whole idea of the Multiverse is that the possibilities are endless. Still, Everything Everywhere All At Once is infinitely entertaining, creative, original and hilarious. It has a rock solid emotional core, vivid action scenes and a killer ensemble to boot. Yeah, like that one scene in the universe without life... It rocks. Oh, that was awful. Well, maybe there is a universe out there in which I'm a good comedian.