Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once ★★

Blurred genitals and match cuts, Asian people salsa dancing, a paean to movie stars ⁠— the kind of thing people like to call "a big swing." So why do I feel like I got a bag of Froot Loops shaken in front of my face for two and a half hours? Sure, I was only going to get so far with a movie where the action conceit is literally "you have to be random," but it's another case study in the contemporary problem of genre-as-metaphor: a big heady aesthetic mash-up that all points to the same thin character dimensions, the most obvious emotional ends. There's pastiche and then there's addiction. Mothers and daughters and diaspora — I'd rather see the movie about those things than the one that gets to it in the last twenty minutes after ping-ponging around an orbiting ring of pop detritus. No worse deflation than watching Ke Huy Quan's gingerly prospective divorcee with decades of wear-and-tear get swapped in for a rapid-fire exposition mascot wearing light-up goggles. I was just getting to know someone and he turns out to be a cardboard cutout. I liked "Swiss Army Man" fine in 2016 and have naturally grown dubious of that response with time, but this made me appreciate that debut a little more, how it's unencumbered by the ickiness of its parasocial longing and submits to the hokum without bothering to resolve it. By comparison, this is practically an open-and-shut case before it even swaps dimensions. Everything is awesome, yes, now let's revisit Kony 2012 while we're at it. At this point, American indies need nothing less than a heaping spoonful of life-affirmation.

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