The dynamic director/writer duo known as the Daniels, consisting of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, has always produced wild visuals paired along with a hidden deeper meaning behind the bravado of phantasmic spectacles. One of their biggest hits that got them "on the scene" is the wild music video for Lil Jon's classic party anthem "Turn Down For What." But more recently than that you may recall their 2016 feature film Swiss Army Man which has commonly been referred to, even by the Daniels, as "the farting corpse movie." This film starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe was the first real introduction into the minds of the Daniels and the vivid imagination and thoughtfulness behind their bold choices. Focusing on the human experience and the connections we have with each other Swiss Army Man was as moving as it was adventurous, funny, and just downright strange.
But this is kind of the whole deal with the Daniels. They have found a way to utilize what might be 2 of the most vibrant imaginations in the world and hone in on broad concepts that are hard to visualize in a physical element. Certainly not dissimilar to a sculptor chipping away at a block of granite to reveal a gorgeous statue within, the Daniels work with a large palette of granite especially in Everything Everywhere All at Once and whittle away to reveal some deep and poignant messaging embedded in the absurdity.
So why don't we take a high level look at all this absurdity? All of this proverbial granite that the Daniels chip at throughout the film with the help of its phenomenal cast.
Everything Everywhere All at Once takes us through the current life of the Wang family, Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), and Joy (Stephanie Hsu) who run a struggling laundromat and are also dealing with an IRS audit and Evelyn's estranged father Gong Gong (James Hong) visiting. Among the struggles of the Wang family to keep everything together there is a chasm within the relationship of Evelyn and Joy, as Joy has brought her girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel) to introduce to her grandfather but Evelyn is opposed to the idea of telling her traditional Chinese father thinking it may shock him too much.
This decision plays a pivotal role in the unraveling of the multiverse within the film and sets up the conception of the antagonist. The villain of the film, and its multiverse, is an omniversal being that is capable of experience every part of the multiverse at all times. This being goes by the name of Jobu Tupaki, and we soon find out this is actually Evelyn's daughter Joy! Certain elements of the story sort of fold on to one another and result in these complex pockets between these bits of information, one of them being how Jobu Tupaki was created and what her motive is. In the film we hear Alphaverse Waymond talk about how not only did Alphaverse Evelyn discover/create verse jumping, the process of accessing another version of you in another universe, but she also created Jobu Tupaki by pushing her daughter too hard and too far. Making Alphaverse Joy verse jump over and over again results in one being unable to separate the universes from eachother, and with so many universes all living within your mind this causes the mind to fracture, resulting in this omniverse being living in every universe at every time.
What's so interesting here, and why the outrageous elements of the film work so well, is what this is all an allegorical representation of. The idea of the multiverse, and creation of Jobu Tupaki, is all a rather straightforward metaphor to the internet. With literally everything everywhere at the tips of our fingers, accessing it all the time can result in overloading our brains with stimuli. Pair that together with the LGTBQIA+ daughter of a Chinese immigrant family who can't come out to her own grandfather we can understand how Joy (and Jobu Tupaki) can feel everything at all times and gets to the point where she would much rather feel nothing.
This gets to her motive, the construction of the bagel. Its a weird sentence to type I know, but the Daniels (again) are able to weave the ridiculous and hilarious into a thorough story about human interactions and our living experiences flawlessly. It is truly remarkable to see. Now the bagel is what can bring Jobu Tupaki the release that she's been after, and its from putting actually everything on the bagel. By everything, she means everything, every internet page, every feeling, every world event, etc. resulting in the bagel caving in on itself akin to a black hole. A multiverse void in a way. Evelyn is thus chosen by the members of the Alphaverse to fight Jobu Tupaki and stop her from unleashing this bagel and unraveling the very fabric of the infinite multiverse.
Took me a little longer to write that all out but that's how deep and intricate the story is. It really is a masterclass in writing by the Daniels, and its something I have never seen before. With Swiss Army Man I thought I had seen it all, that film turned out to be a prologue of sorts. An introduction into the bizarre minds of the Daniels, but a teaser in how they can link these ideas all together, like a complex web of thematic elements, hilarious jokes, and the deepest heartfelt messages you can think of. While the idea of an everything bagel unraveling all life itself is preposterous to think about, where it takes its seat in the theme is heartbreaking. A young girl who has a fractured relationship with her mother and can't come out to her grandfather, dealing with the onslaught of information and all that comes from the internet age, just wants it all to stop and feel nothing is truly gut wrenching.
Pairing this main point in conjunction with Evelyn's own romantic pitfalls, as Waymond is asking for a divorce, adds on another layer of miscommunication within the family and allows the viewer to empathize on another level with everyone. The multiverse versions of Evelyn and Waymond take us through a love story unlike anything else. One of the first iterations of Evelyn and Waymond we see is if Evelyn didn't run off with Waymond and instead became a movie star (how meta) and we're shown a life without one another. It's sad yet hopeful and adds more texture and flavor to the ending, in which you just may end up crying over a rock or some hot dog hands.
Looking at the cast as a whole, this is a bonafide powerhouse group. I can't fathom anyone doing a better job in the film, its played to perfection! Yeoh is fantastic, absolutely fantastic, and it is just lovely seeing Ke Huy Quan again after all these years. But not only is the nostalgia nice, he is the best supporting actor thus far and that's not an exaggeration. He's vulnerable and confused, he's powerful and directed, he's at his best and elevates the scene and his co-stars to another degree. The same goes for Stephanie Hsu who's expressions alone power the pathos of the film like a freaking freight train. Her transitions between Joy and Jobu Tupaki are spot on and the mix of wonky costumes and her villainous aspirations are well balanced with her performance. Lastly, Jamie Lee Curtis is stupendous, downright hilarious, and this is the second film I've seen this year alone with James Hong in it (the other is Turning Red) and it is a delight and a half, a blessing some might say.
Rightfully so this film has rocketed up iMDB's top 100 movies of all time list, last I checked it was up to number 9! Some of you may not care about that but I think its always nice to have cinema like this rewarded with superlatives that may mean nothing in the long run. Overall the Daniels have crafted something undeniably exquisite. A wild stimulating journey through time and space where love is the constant that holds us all together through it all. Its simultaneously shocking, funny and outrageous, heart breaking, calming and joyous all in one. This is the original multiverse concept the world needs (and should want) and it is a marvel to see play out on screen.
I was aware of the multiverse storyline in the film going into my viewing but outside of that I didn't really have any idea what the central plot was. Like everyone else I was drawn to the trailer where you could see a hot dog handed Michelle Yeoh and found that idea rather intriguing. That along with infinite Michelle Yeoh's made me think there was quite a bit of stimuli packed into this film, a whole lotta stuff if you will. Therefore the appropriate choice of beverage appeared to be a Noisy Boy IPA from the Crux Fermentation Project in Oregon.
Why was this the appropriate choice?? Well I figured a movie with infinite characters and possibilities probably presents a lot of noise to sift through and get to the meat of what we're viewing. Turns out I couldn't be more wrong and my interpretation of "noise" was far off. There is no noise in this film. Everything is fine tuned to contribute to the plot and there's nothing for you to sift through, just sit back and take it all in.
Which of course I ended up doing with both the film and this here brew. The Noisy Boy is a rather loud and emphatic IPA, bursting at the seams with fruity flavor and bombastic tropical whimsy. Flowing with plenty of citrus flavor, some orange, grapefruit and pineapple are the big winners here, along with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra hops to balance it out on the bitterness end. With an IBU of 35 that bitterness is not at all that overwhelming, or whelming? The tropical citrus flavors do however get balanced out with a nice pine aroma and taste that comes from the backend and the drink is overall light and a little dry.
Noisy Boy IPA - American | 6.2% ABV Crux Fermentation Project @cruxfermentationproject