Jake Bark’s review published on Letterboxd:
Fucking obnoxious. The fact that this is getting such glowing reviews makes me feel like it’s a fucking Psy-Op. Maybe it is, maybe this is the first step in the Russo Bros. monopolizing A24 in the glorious name of Marvel. This definitely feels like a Marvel movie, stupid quips and all, but it seems to be even more heinous than your typical Marvel movie. I’m 100% certain I hated 99% of this movie. The only thing I’m unsure of is whether I hated it more than I hated Don’t Look Up.
The overly caffeinated, excessively beating heart of this movie is the belief in “optimistic nihilism,” which is just an oxymoron at best. It’s just buzzwords, there’s no substance to it. This movie is “baby’s first brush with nihilism.” It’s a stupid concept (Marvel-style multiverses) trying to appear smart by association with a grander concept (nihilism). At worst, it’s a cynical push toward an ideology that encourages complacency in the face of existential dread and meaninglessness. Yeah, this world is meaningless, and we’re all just stupid, insignificant specks of shit, but that’s really underselling and undervaluing the human experience isn’t it? And to suggest that there is nothing anyone can do to overcome that feeling of dread is fucking sickening. The movie’s response to normal feelings of dread, depression, or trauma is to just be quirky! “Just be a rock!” Just be kind. But don’t do anything within your power to enhance your lot in life! Maybe this movie is just good at pulling the wool over the eyes of the audience but how the fuck is anyone supposed to view this thing and feel like it’s actually life-affirming?
The faux-ideologies aside, it’s a dogshit movie from every other way you look at it. There’s no meaningful character development, no one changes for the better, no one really learns anything. In an episode of It’s Always Sunny, that’s usually fine and entertaining because they’re awful people you aren’t supposed to sympathize with them. In this, you’re supposed to sympathize with this family and be invested in their problems though. The father wants to divorce the mother? Feels forced and against character. They’re getting audited by the IRS? Yawn. Mother is homophobic and abusive to her gay daughter? There is no satisfying growth or resolution to this! Near the end of the film she calls her daughter fat and says she’s still upset about her dating women. But don’t worry, it’s okay! They embrace and say they love each other because nothing matters I guess? It’s a stretch to call it acceptance but I struggle even to say the mother displays tolerance at the bare minimum.
It’s really cruel and a insanely racist at times in its characterization. Evelyn is told that she’s the worst version of herself throughout all of the multiverses like it’s supposed to be positive??? It feels like negging but it’s treated as a sincere indicator of her specialness. What’s special about her being painted as a stereotypical Asian “tiger mom” that pushes her daughter too hard? Her father is an old traditional Chinese man who is disappointed in having a daughter because the movie apparently needed some outdated one-child policy propagandizing. The dad is a child-like emasculated goofball who wears a fanny pack. The lesbian daughter plays the role of the villain in the multiverses. The family fits the Chinese laundry worker stereotype. There’s a Jewish character they call “Big Nose.” For good measure they underdeveloped the daughter’s girlfriend and included such a tacked-on-there lesbian romance between the mom and the IRS agent. God, I wish it stopped there.
The humor is proof that early 2010’s “Le epic-bacon” culture is resurgent. I felt like I was going crazy sitting in the theater hearing everyone laugh at the stupid random bullshit they kept throwing out. Wow, they’re fighting with dildos! Lmao, the IRS awards look like butt plugs and they’re fighting to stick them up their ass! OMG, they’re in a universe where their fingers are hot dogs! HOOOLY SHIT, the mother and daughter are having a heart to heart while they’re in a universe where they’re rocks! 😲 Gimme a fuckin’ break! It’s all such soyface inducing bullshit. It’s silly humor for media illiterate adults that think like children. Any chance of this movie having a tender moment or a consistent tone is shafted by the stupidest bullshit.
Nothing fucking matters, but this movie ESPECIALLY does not matter in the slightest bit. It’s not art, it’s a cynical piece of media trying to pass itself off as quirky, life-affirming comedy. Don’t buy into it. There’s countless other works of art that might give you a healthy dose of meaning in your life, but Everything Everywhere At Once sure as shit ain’t it.