Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once

This year’s fallen movie standards match the disappointment felt everywhere — in style, messaging, and leadership. Fanboy favorite Everything Everywhere All at Once epitomized the faithlessness at the heart of comic-book culture. Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, a Chinese immigrant laundromat owner whose American-based working-class struggles import Hong Kong action-movie agnosticism. (What contemporary Hollywood film would dare recognize the moral struggles of native white, black, Latin, or Native Americans?) Unconcerned about the existence or nature of God, Evelyn is caught up in a materialistic world of new beliefs (her beta-male husband, lesbian daughter, and feminist IRS inspector). The film’s writing-directing team the Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, respectively Asian and Caucasian) challenge the real world by surrounding Evelyn in a circus-like multiverse — the new atheist box-office utopia. Evelyn’s journey toward self-empowerment comes down to tortured Buddhism — just as the Daniels make tortured, semi-jokey art films.

Unschooled Marvel addicts who never heard of Kafka, Buñuel, or Chuck Jones easily fall for the entropy farce. The Daniels refuse narrative convention in order to represent our culture’s gradual decline into disorder. Their millennial solipsism — Evelyn against the world, through various dimensions — celebrates autism as insight.

The film’s ultimate message: “Be Kind,” spoken by two rocks. It’s a childish palliative, unlike the recent self-critical protest songs by Van Morrison and Bob Dylan that insist on responsible personal choices. Yeoh brings adult stability to the blackout-skit chaos and cast of “stupid human” clowns. But the Daniels reduce life to “just a statistical inevitability, it’s nothing special.” The final image of Earth as a gigantic, spinning bagel is as irrelevant as everything in Top Gun: Maverick, astutely rejected by critic Gregory Solman for pretending that America proves its valor by fighting an unnamed enemy.


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