"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Everything Everywhere All At Once

It’s hard not to think of EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE as some kind of miracle movie. I had no idea it was something I needed, or something that anyone would think to make, until a couple months ago when the trailer came out. It stars Michelle Yeoh in her best ever English language role, a very layered character who gets to be funny and goofy and troubled and kind of an asshole but totally lovable and yes, she also does some kung fu. It co-stars Ke Huy Quan, who we knew as a child star in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and THE GOONIES, but who hasn’t been in a movie in almost 20 years, making a triumphant return in surely his best part ever (and he also gets to fight).

It would be worth celebrating just for putting those two actors together, even if it didn’t entirely work. But this thing is much more advanced than that. Written and directed by “Daniels” (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, of SWISS ARMY MAN and various music videos), it’s a very original movie, but if I had to give it a short hand description based on other people’s work I’d go with “if Michel Gondry made THE MATRIX.” Or if that scares you, substitute Stephen Chow. It uses a convoluted sci-fi gimmick as a vehicle for some absurd humor, artfully hand-crafted imagery and outlandish action, which all weaves together to explore ideas about life and relationships and family and happiness. That title is no lie.

Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American laundromat owner who’s dealing with a whole lot at the moment. Number one, she’s preparing to throw a big Chinese New Year party. Number two, her father (James Hong, G-2) is visiting from China, and is very judgmental of everything she does. Number three, she keeps not having time to have a talk with her husband Waymond (Quan) and doesn’t know that what he wants to talk about is getting a divorce. Number four, her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS) came to help with Gong Gong (grandpa), and there’s great tension between mother and daughter and her very nice girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel, THE CARNIVORES). And number five, she’s being audited by the IRS, does not have her shit together and is in danger of losing her business. Then, during her meeting with the auditor, Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis, THE FOG), things get way more complicated.

That’s when the multiverse comes in. Waymond’s body is temporarily taken over by a Waymond from another timeline who tells her that every decision that each person makes branches off into a separate reality. He’s from the Alpha universe, where Alpha Evelyn discovered the existence of the parallel universes and the possibility to “verse jump” – inhabit the bodies of your counterparts in other universes or access their abilities in your own. And he tells her she’s the only one who can stop someone called Jobu Tupaki from destroying the whole multiverse.

Evelyn sees enough to know this is real, but a misunderstanding causes her to punch Deirdre in the face, which does not go over well, and Alpha Waymond intervenes to help her escape the IRS building.

I don’t want to overhype the action. It’s not as much as you’d get in YES, MADAM! or WING CHUN. But there are several fights with legit choreography and filmatism and they’re not in a hurry to be done with. I knew the shit was about to go down when some security guards showed up and one of them was Brian Le, who I know from the great swimming pool fight in THE PAPER TIGERS. He and his brother Andy Le (the guy with the scary mask in SHANG-CHI), who also appears, are the fight choreographers. I knew from BREATHING FIRE (1991) that Quan was a great screen fighter, and luckily they knew what to do with him. I love that his big showcase is based around a totem of Waymond being a nerdy dad – his fannypack (with stuffed animal hanging from it) – which he uses like a whip, and triumphantly clips back on when he’s finished.

With a premise like this you have to have rules about how things work – for example, in THE MATRIX your consciousness enters the Matrix by plugging in and exits by hearing the modem sound on a phone line. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE has a brilliant gimmick about how to verse-jump. I thought at first it involved chewing, since we see Waymond eating chapstick at one point and later pulling a piece of gum from under a desk and chewing it. It turns out the secret to opening pathways is to do something statistically unlikely, so the characters are always doing strange, random things like that in the middle of fights: eating a fly, licking a pole, blowing on someone’s nose. Waymond of this universe describes it something like, “I think when she does something weird she can fight better.” For one of her first jumps, Evelyn has to tell her grumpy IRS auditor Deirdre that she loves her – something that makes more sense later when we learn there’s at least one reality where they are in love.

Curtis and Jenny Slate (VENOM) are probly two actors who did not predict that they would one day get to fight Michelle Yeoh in a movie. Curtis has a bigger and better part than I expected from the trailer – the Jamie-Lee-aissance really is here. And Slate gets a really funny scene that I saw as a throwback to that couple years after THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY when all comedies had to have a part where a small animal flies through the air. There’s also a small, funny part for Harry Shum Jr., who’s cool in my book because he’s a dancer who was in STEP UP 2 and 3 and LXD but also has notable action appearances in MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY and ESCAPE PLAN: THE EXTRACTORS.

It’s an extremely dense movie that feels like exercise to keep up with, but good exercise. It throws a whole lot at you, and I know there was stuff I wasn’t fast enough to process (there will definitely be some people pausing the blu ray to see some of the visual jokes), but I never felt lost. In the opening scene I wasn’t sure how well I would sync up to the rhythm of it, but that ends up really capturing the overwhelming feeling of Evelyn’s life.

I want to give credit to production designer Jason Kisvarday and set decorator Kelsi Ephraim (both of THE GREASY STRANGLER and SORRY TO BOTHER YOU) because the amount of clutter in the Wang residence deeply stressed me out. It looks very lived in and nice and especially in this moment when there’s a bunch of food for the party and receipt piles for the audit there’s just too much stuff for the space. And then we see that the home connects to the laundromat, and they go in there and there are bags and boxes and things piled above the machines, and they ran out of space there and had to move some of it into their home. So there’s no escaping. I’m not a hoarder, and my apartment doesn’t look like that, but it’s the best cinematic depiction of something I’ve struggled with at home and at work, of just having too many little things that I don’t want to or don’t know how to part with, and having anxiety about it. It’s also a good metaphor for all the things Evelyn has done in her life while feeling she has little to show for it.

There are clearly many ways that EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE speaks specifically to Asian-American and immigrant experiences – everything from cultural details and generational differences to practicalities like Evelyn struggling to understand some of the phrases Deirdre uses, and being chastised for not bringing Joy along to translate. But of course being very specific about different people’s lives taps into all the general things we share, so much of this is universally relatable. I think most people will see some of their family and/or some of their selves in it. I definitely did.

That’s the substance of the movie, but if a movie can have substance and make me buckle over with laughter at the same time that’s even better. Of all the feats this film accomplishes, I was most impressed by its ability to inject some of its most absurd jokes into emotional scenes without undercutting them. In fact, there’s a crucial scene (I will label this a SPOILER because this part is so fucking good) where Evelyn and Joy have become two rocks sitting on a cliff. Neither of the actors are in the scene at all – we just hear the wind blowing and read their conversation as subtitles. The premise is intentionally ridiculous and the dialogue is humorous, yet for me it absolutely worked as a mother-daughter bonding moment. Similarly, there’s a touching scene that takes place in a universe where people can’t use their fingers for much (you’ll see why), but a character starts playing “Clair de Lune” on a piano with her feet. And I’m pretty sure the chords are accurate! It’s so silly and funny and still I was moved by what was going on in the scene. Masterful blending of tones you wouldn’t think would mix.

A great example of a potent funny-sad moment is when (POTENT FUNNY-SAD MOMENT SPOILER) Alpha Waymond explains to Evelyn that the reason she’s the Evelyn who can beat Jobu Tupaki (or as Evelyn calls her at one point, “Juju Chewbacca”) is that of all the endless Evelyns in all the multiverse she’s the one who has consistently made the wrong decisions, failed at everything, and therefore has the most untapped potential. It’s kind of like, “You are the chosen one… because you suck so bad.” It feels like a simultaneous insult and motivational moment, and the two feelings together equal funny.

The idea that you can do all these other things in different realities could be taken as “You see? This is you! You can do anything!” but also, “Man, you blew it just being you when you could’ve been this other you.” Indeed, the reality where Evelyn learned kung fu and became a movie star (like Michelle Yeoh!) seems to be our Evelyn’s greatest asset in battling Jobu, but it’s also the movie’s biggest emotional gut punch because she becomes convinced her life would’ve been great if she’d never married Waymond.

So this is a goofy sci-fi kung fu comedy that’s very sincerely probing into relationships between husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, and mothers and daughters. It’s about families that aren’t comfortable telling each other they care about each other, but are very comfortable criticizing. It’s about regrets about choices you made or the life you could’ve had or the thing you failed at or gave up on or are unsatisfied with. It’s a movie that recognizes the joy of screen fighting but believes in its characters enough to know they need better (kinder) solutions to their problems. It’s also a movie featuring an evil bagel that somehow feels like the best symbolic illustration of depression and nihilism since that horse refused to leave the Swamp of Sadness in THE NEVERENDING STORY. And as a bonus it has a silly joke about a Pixar movie* that works on so many levels and comes back in so many different ridiculous ways that it’s awe inspiring.

I saw SWISS ARMY MAN and I kind of liked it – it was funny and clever and it was really impressive that they found a way to make an entire movie where one of the co-leads is a farting corpse. But it was a little much. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE has the same fierce dedication to absurdity (if not flatulence) but it hits so much harder because there is so much heart, so much understanding of the struggles of being human and how to find love and hope in spite of that. It’s just a beautiful movie. Also there’s a big scene where Andy and Brian Le do kung fu with trophies stuck up their butts. Very few movies have done that before, although I’m sure it will become more popular after this.


*spoiler detail: Did you notice on the credits that it was really Randy Newman singing on that fake Pixar song?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2022 at 1:25 pm and is filed under Action, Comedy/Laffs, Martial Arts, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

77 Responses to “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

  1. I am avoiding this review at the moment because I want to see the film as fresh as I possibly can. I don’t want a repeat of the PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN situation, where by the time I got through hearing about how great it is, I no longer had any desire to see it.

    My kneejerk distrust of anything Film Twitter gets excited about is so deeply ingrained at this point that I have to keep reminding myself that I have zero reason to side-eye this movie. I liked SWISS ARMY MAN, I obviously think Michelle Yeoh is great, and what kind of a monster wouldn’t be psyched to see Short Round come back strong? I’m doing my very best not to let all the hyperbole get to me. I would like to see this movie without a chip on my shoulder.

  2. I think that’s a good plan. One of the directors, Dan Kwan, has been calling it overrated on Twitter to try to get people’s hopes down.

  3. I too am not reading this review until after I see it next week. But I will share this conversation about the scheduling of that:

    “I’ll take you to a movie for your birthday if there’s anything you want to see”

    “Well, there’s a movie that looks like ‘Legion’ but with Michelle Yeoh instead of the guy from Downton Abby, if you’d be interested in that”

    “Who the fuck wouldn’t be interested in that?”

  4. Well, I read a little bit of this review, but I can see that managing expectations is gonna be an issue. The moreso since I can’t see it next week or, apparently, any time soon in the UK, where the best I can find for a future release date is “2022”. It seems UK cinemas will be too stuffed with Fantastic Beasts and Downton Abbey 2: The New Batch in April to find room for this, and by May there’ll be a programming clash with that other multiverse movie I keep hearing about.

  5. I appreciate your share about clutter. I feel the same way. I’m pretty good about deciding what to get rid of. I just often don’t have time or energy to do it so stuff piles up. The pandemic has exacerbated it with more people sending me stuff, and luckily I’ve worked steadily so haven’t had much down time to do a full Marie Kondo.

    I try to do a little each day but I’m pacing way behind accumulation. Part of it is my obsession with not wasting things. So I want to donate useful things but that takes time too. I don’t know the answer but it doesn’t seem dangerous yet so I’m sharing I relate.

    Also Racacoony!

  6. Considering my utter disdain for SWISS ARMY MAN, kinda surprised I ended up enjoying this one as much as I did. Still think their humor is of the desperate ‘please for the love of God love us’ variety but what’s good here is real good.

    Shame it came out in April because that mean the uniformly great performances by the elder members of the cast will probably be ignored for Awards later on this year/early next year.

  7. Well, this one’s a masterpiece, but I don’t want to overhype it, so I’ll be sparing in my praise. I just want to single out the surrealistic humor that’s blended into otherwise (?) emotionally serious moments. And I think what makes it work… as opposed to the “Well, *that* just happened” improv-quip house style Marvel’s popularized through all filmmaking at the moment… is that instead of making bathos-ridden one-liners that grind the action to a halt and shatter the tone to wink at the audience, they use sight gags and visual humor with a manifestly straight-face, so it fits the emotional tone while still being wacky. And I think that’s why the comedy never takes you out of the dramatic stakes of the story. It just does what comic relief is supposed to–leaven a mood that would otherwise be too grueling.

  8. I saw this being mentioned in places and thought it was just a really good martial arts movie, but if it’s made by the SWISS ARMY MAN guys, then I’m hyped. Loved SWISS ARMY MAN, their combination of absurd humor and sincere emotional stuff on that one was amazing, IMO.

  9. I was not very enthousiastic about Swiss Army Man, which felt as a shame because I loved the Daniel music videos. everyone has probably seen Turn Down For What by Lil Jon, but Tongues by Joywave is also very cool and sweet, although very nsfw.

  10. ***********SPOILERS***********

    I just want to talk about one moment that really struck me emotionally that was also a funny joke. It’s when she just saw the amazing life she had as the martial arts movie star. When she came back into herself she told her husband how great her life was when she didn’t choose him. Then the Alpha version of her husband took over and she told him she wanted her husband back to be able to go into detail about how awesome she was without him. It’s funny, but the more I think about it, the more touching I find it. She’s so excited about it that all she wants to do is share it with her husband. But I think she’s also so secure in his love of her that she thinks he’d want to know about it. Like he’d be happy for her. Anyway, I just think that’s really lovely.

    But maybe I’m reading too much into it. Sometimes that’s a danger with a movie with layers – you think you’re peeling back a layer and finding something deep but they just meant it as a joke. No, you know what, I’m going to own it. Even if it’s just something I’m seeing in there that wasn’t the intention of the filmmaker, that’s what art is, people finding their own layers.

  11. I didn’t think about it that way until you pointed it out, but I love that.

  12. Maggie, I got that exact feeling from that scene!!

  13. I’m still kind of overwhelmed with processing everything going on in this incredible film so I’m just going to offer a blanket “holy shit was this ever great”, and a few small observations:

    [SPOILER] For me the high point of the movie was the first long sequence in the IRS office, when the husband is toggling back and forth between (glasses off) explaining the situation and kung fu badassery, and (glasses on) looking around in hapless confusion and asking Evelyn what the hell is going on. Dude’s performance is great in both personas and transitions between them so smoothly… it’s just sublime. And there are so many great hilarious / kick-ass moments in the fight with the fanny pack – pausing mid-fight to load the pack up with aquarium gravel, and smoothly buckling it back around his waist at the end…

    And, watching a “how we did the special effects” youtube by the directors, I loved seeing how low-tech the amazing visuals were – they got the vertigo rush of Michelle Yeoh psychically hurtling backward into the “janitor’s closet” by pushing her around in a wheelbarrow, with a leaf blower aimed at her hair. WHAT

    Finally a third point raised by my wife after aforementioned behind the scenes video: in her words, “How did these two twerpy looking guys make a movie that so perfectly captured my experience of being a mother??” It is indeed kind of remarkable that this and TURNING RED (also terrific) came out so close to each other and sync up with each other so well as mystical / sci-fi explorations of parent/child emotional volatility, among other themes…

    Bottom line, I liked SWISS ARMY MAN ok but this is on a whole ‘nother level. I already can’t wait to see these dudes’ next film.

  14. When I found out there was a whole joke involving the song Absolutely (Story of a Girl) by Nine Days was a big part of the movie and I never noticed that now I definately need to see this again.

  15. Hmmm…

    Well, I did think the movie was kind of clever at disguising itself. You sit down to some ‘A24-limited-release’ type fare. Then suddenly, “Waitaminute… This is just a studio gross-out comedy complete with the pre-requisite ‘family is like super important’ warm-hug ending…” THEN the Marvel guys’ names come onscreen.

    Well played, Marvel guys. You got me.

    Yeah, it was okay. I don’t really do the ‘studio gross-out comedy complete with the pre-requisite ‘family is like super important’ warm-hug ending’ so my mileage is going to be limited. It kind of seemed like they shot the first draft and forgot the whole ‘tighten it up in post’ part. It was long, it was stuffed to the point of splitting with gimmicks and bits, most of which probably should have got half as much screen time as they ended up getting.

    Yet, it had some good grace notes (the scene that Maggie mentions, in particular), and it’s not like I’m going to complain about big Hollywood producers putting together a vehicle for Michelle Yeoh.

  16. This might be the first film ***SPOILERS SPOILERS*** to turn the “parent comes around to child’s identity” scene on its head, at least that I’ve seen in the theater. The use of the word “girlfriend” should not be a triumphant moment for the parent after years of doing the opposite, and the child calls her on it. The big enlightened epiphany of homophobes or racists or whatever that Oscar flicks are built around never captures what it’s like to be on the opposite side, waiting for someone to come around and get on board. Let’s just say I felt that.

  17. I was curious what you meant by this being a gross-out comedy so I had a look at the Parent’s Guide on IMDB: [SPOILERS, I GUESS]

    “In a fight scene, a woman uses two giant dildos as weapons. The scene is incredibly comedic.”

    “Incredibly comedic” you say, I guess I’ll take your word for it (for now) parent.

  18. Pacman, the entire theater was laughing so I guess it was incredibly comedic.

  19. Just saw it with my son and wife. Loved it. Actually lol’d a few times. Did not like the paper cut scene.

  20. its the best movie I have ever seen.

  21. I just saw this in a theatre (that had a bar decorated with murals/art about the movie) and was massively hyped. I love me some Grant Morrison/Michael Moorcock multiverse nonsense.
    But

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
    i also predicted it would probably have a ‘ family is like super important’ warm-hug ending’ as Jojo said, and that’s what it had.

    Still, the rest of it was trippy and gorgeous, and had some great ideas I really enjoyed.

    On the third hand, I missed seeing PIG or WILD AT HEART in the theatre to see this…I wonder what that branch looks like

  22. Sternshein- It was the officious tone in which it was written that amused me, more than any kind of comment about the quality of the material.

    Having said that, lots of “entire theatres” laugh at stuff I wouldn’t, and I think most people could say the same.

  23. I liked this one, but far from loved it unfortunately.

    On the good side, the set design and costumes were extremely well done. How weird is it that I noticed the set design (not just the laundromat / home but also the IRS office, the HOLY MOUNTAIN – style trippy magical sets, etc), something I am not really in to? Obviously it impressed Vern too. The daughter’s bizarre outfits cracked me up too, and the other costumes were top notch.

    The low budget special effects were also really good. No distracting CGI, just lots of good camera work inventively thrown together with great sets, costumes, and what looked like a ton of cheap but really well done trick shots. I have no idea the budget here but I would guess less than $50M, maybe even $40M. I hope they make 10x their budget and show everyone how it’s done.

    Also good, Yeough was very good but Quan was phenomenal. I did not even know he was Short Round, thinking the whole time he was some semi-famous actor from Chinese films or something, because he obviously had the acting chops somehow but also kicked ass?? I think when I was fully sold on his performance was when he showed up in the tuxedo and his suave, sad, sophisticated act was 100% believable. It is strange to see a guy embody a hapless nerdy father figure one second, channel Jacky Chan the next, and jump to fucking James Bond a few minutes later and pull them all off flawlessly. Very impressive. Can you get an Oscar for this kind of role?

    Also good, I laughed at a bunch of the ridiculous jokes, especially the dawn of man, the chef’s secret reveal, and the rock conversation.

    However I really thought some of the jokes were really beaten into the ground. And it was just too long, they could have cut half an hour out and I believe ended up with a tighter script and a better movie.

    And finally… While I don’t think it is necessary to come up with completely original ideas all the time, and when your film is a martial arts comedy family drama mash-up you have a lot of ground to cover already and you aren’t expected to break new ground, so it is more forgiveable to borrow ideas and themes from other places. But this movie is basically MATRIX plus RICK AND MORTY with some extra wackiness throw in. I thought it did the story well, and used it’s borrowed material to good effect, but those sources are vastly better when they are at their best.

    Still fun. 6 out of 10 stars. Maybe 7.

  24. People can like or not like whatever they please but I would never trust the taste of anyone who didn’t love this movie. Just a top to bottom masterpiece and one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I laughed, I gasped, I cried — all at once. Michelle Yeoh, we do not deserve you.

  25. Put me down in the column of “this was a masterpiece” and for many of the reasons cited here, so I won’t bother to repeat what has been heaped on it.

    What I will comment on was the personal hits this had for me. I am of an age with Yeoh and Quan who, in one movie, basically covered her entire career of playing “Tiger moms” and “supercops” and “movie stars” and…and… Then there is Quan who disappeared for years and came back playing the sweetest character mixed with dashing Wong Kar-wai energy (is it me or was he REALLY dashing in a tux and smoking a cig??). But I digress. I am older and have, in my mid-50’s, been dissecting my life of late. All the “sliding doors” moments of “what could have been” and then this movie comes along and, like, reflects this back at my like a cannon. I have two daughters, one around the age of Joy in this and one still in teens. I have elderly parent that I have to explain gender related struggles of my youngest while still wrangling with it myself. This just hit me in all the right places at a time that I needed to be hit there.

    I feel bad for my wife, though. She is dealing with the same things as me, obviously, but she had a different takeaway. She felt the story was that Yeoh was a bad mom and created a monster in her child and struggles with that in our own life, even though she isn’t a bad mom and hasn’t created a monster. That said, this is the quality and danger of art. It reflects back at you in ways you can’t always control. She even noted that 10 years ago or 10 years from now she would have or will later see this movie in an entirely different light. I think that is the real power of this movie that it really is “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for everyone that watches it.

    So while that clouds my first viewing, it doesn’t take away from the impact it had on me. A reflective movie in a way that few movies hit. I can’t wait to see it again.

  26. Thank you for sharing that fil, that’s really interesting. I love when movies hit me in different ways at different stages of my life. It makes sense that this movie in particular would say different things to different people.

    I would argue, though, that even in the movie Jobu Tupaki is not a monster – her attitude is very relatable! And in the end things work out.

  27. I don’t think “Yeough’s character is a bad mother” is all that far off from the point of the movie. She was projecting her own difficult relationship with her father onto her own child and it had disastrous consequences for the universe. The redemption arc was that she rejected that worldview and changed to acceptance of her daughter no matter what, and challenged her father to face the same choice. Unsurprisingly, he adapted and overcame.

  28. I feel bad for my wife, though. She is dealing with the same things as me, obviously, but she had a different takeaway. She felt the story was that Yeoh was a bad mom and created a monster in her child and struggles with that in our own life, even though she isn’t a bad mom and hasn’t created a monster

    Yeah, I think she may have spaced out during the last 10-15 minutes (which is completely understandable, shit was super long and repetitive).

  29. You know, there was something hitting me a little weird about the lesbian daughter plot point and I think some reflection has helped with that.

    1. It’s kind of an ‘easy out’ to show how Yeoh is a bad mother. Rather than something more incisive, it’s just ‘oh, she’s a homophobe, that’s the problem.’ It’s convenient. I picture someone watching the movie going “that’s not me, I’m not a bad mother, I accept gay people!”

    2. Yeoh’s resolution to that involving her finding out that she’s either bisexual or that she has a gay parallel universe doppelganger (leaving aside the question of how that would work if alternate timelines are based on choices someone makes: did Yeoh *choose* to be gay in that timeline?) means she doesn’t have to accept her daughter, she just figures out that she herself is (or potentially is) the same way. Which maybe is the point, but…

    2a. I don’t know, it’s like a father accepting that his son likes listening to heavy metal even though he himself hates it, versus the father getting into heavy metal himself and them both liking it. One seems like an extension of respect to the son being his own man, the other seems to be… changing your mind and approving of his likes after all. Which is a really pedantic thing to take umbrage with, I know, it’s like complaining about Megan Fox’s thumbs.

    So, to reiterate, I wholeheartedly approve of the movie despite my nitpicks and I actually find that now it’s an example of great sci-fi in the high-brow Isaac Asimov sense, since it’s actually philosophically examining the whole multiverse concept instead of using it as an excuse for Evil Batman to team up with Cowboy Superman or whatever. Which kinda reminds me of Bill & Ted for some reason.

  30. I read it much differently Kaplan. I don’t think the film calls Evelyn a bad mother or simplifies anything by calling her a homophobe. I believe it’s showing the lasting effects of every small cultural and language artifact she was raised in by being the daughter of a strict traditionalist. I think that’s why it’s important that she has the conversation about word choices of gendered girlfriend/boyfriend and which are “easier,” because we ingrain a lot of things as short-hand and it’s hard to think differently. That’s true of all of us for a lot of different things!

    The resolution isn’t Evelyn finding out there are versions of herself that are in a relationship with Deirdre. It’s her realizing that her strength, the reason she’s the version that will get through to Joy, is that she was honest and chose love all those years ago. She remembers that she chose Waymond over her father’s cultural expectations. That bravery to stand up for her true self is what gave her the most possibilities. Therefore, standing up for her daughter’s love is what will break this negative cycle.

    There’s a ton going on in the climax and you can interpret if a lot of ways. At it’s heart, it’s people in pain no longer avoiding the difficult conversations, and being vulnerably honest with each other. Evelyn accepts her role in Joy’s anguish and respects her boundaries. Evelyn stops seeing her husband as the one “who always makes things worse” and realizes Deirdre isn’t “That Woman” but another human suffering like she is. And everybody stops assuming Gong Gong is the villain and tells him the truth about Joy; perhaps my favorite moment in the film is his surprised but possibly bemused statement, not question!, of “girlfriend.” When given new information and honesty, he reacted with kindness and not out of anger/fear. Isn’t that what we should all try to do?

    You asked if there’s an implication if homosexuality is a choice. I would frame it like this: the film shows how much of life is fluid based on trillions of outcomes happening each second. The life you have today is based on one outcome of those possibilities. The way you perceive yourself and what you are and are capable of is heavily shaped by the environmental factors of those other outcomes. There is a version of Evelyn where everything worked out so that she chose a relationship with Deirdre. Just like we know there are versions she chose Waymond or not. Crucially, NEITHER are inauthentic. The default assumption of your question is challenged by the film is how language is one construct that shapes our perception of self.

  31. I throw the word “bonkers” around too much when describing movies, but this one is genuinely bonkers. The hype was off the charts, so I ended up bummed this was only a 4/5 movie and not a 5/5. That said– 4/5 is pretty great. At times overwhelming and slightly exhausting, it felt twice as long as it was, but that’s due to the density of its plot and visuals. Looking forward to watching this again on Blu-ray– with subtitles and a pause button. Every time I noticed a detail or background element, it would end up coming back around and being used deliberately in a later scene. Very thematically rich and emotionally resonant– I felt my eyes getting wet toward the end. A movie that turns existential despair into a force for optimism and kindness is right in my wheelhouse. I love the everything bagel, the googly third eye, the dawn of man flashback.

    All of the actors were great, but oh man, do I want Short Round to become a huge star.

  32. Jamie Lee Curtis is having quite a fine good time torching the MCU recently on social media talking up this great little movie – including the following immortal bit:

    ” reminded audiences that they could spend their time (seeing a movie) with “a dynamite dildo fight scene as well as a very erotic hotdog hand mating dance” instead of Benedict Cumberbatch frowning while doing complicated hand gestures.”

    Legend.

  33. Eh, I do appreciate that Jamie Lee Curtis likes this movie so much that she still keeps pimping it, although her contractually stipulated promotion time most likely ended weeks ago, but “superhero movies bad” became such a lame “I like CINEMA and you don’t” hipster opinion in the last two years, I have a hard time cheering for such a cheap pop. It just feels desperate and a bit arrogant at this point. We get it, you believe Kevin Feige killed independent cinema or whatever. Yet your movie still got made and earned way more money than anybody expected so far, so what are you complaining about? I like Curtis, but stuff like this just gives me “DJ Sneak complaining about bass drops 10 years ago” vibes.

  34. CJ, I think Curtis is just playing the heel on social media; she did get wrestling powers during one of her verse jumps, don’t forget! I don’t think she’s actually complaining or seething with rage, just trying to get a couple of outlets to keep EEAAO in the news while Strange steals the spotlight.

  35. dreadguacamole

    May 8th, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Dunno. I get that it’s trite to talk or complain about superhero saturation, but it was kind of shocking when we went to see the Northman last week that there were zero* trailers for superhero films; it just felt weird and, to be honest, nice… and I say this as someone who’s liked at least half of the marvel films.
    Also, the lines Alan’s quoted are pretty damn funny.
    Also also, on an unrelated note, all the trailers were for movies (except Firestarter, which I hope against hope will be good) I’m really excited for! Nope! Everything Everywhere! (comes on next week here in the UK, and I can’t wait.) Bullet Train! Feels like it’s going to be a good year movie-wise.

    *:Well, except that stupid line on the Firestarter where they posit lil’ Charlie as a superhero. No chance of zero mention of superheroes yet, apparently.

  36. dreadguacamole

    May 8th, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Oh, and I forgot Men. Any year with a new Garland film is going to be a good year for me… that really was a killer trailer lineup.

  37. Maybe….also accept that, perhaps…some people just don’t LIKE Superhero Movies. Back in the 80s and 90s, I counted at least 2 members of my family refusing to have anything to do with any movie starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger. As my sister would remark tritely, “I’m not interested in oily musclemen blowing stuff up”. I can draw a straight line from that to people not liking movies where super-powered beings make stuff happen by drawing circles with their fingers, placing 2 fingers by the side of their head or throwing their hands up.

  38. Yep, MCU stans have it pretty good; not only are their films hugely successful, they are well reviewed by critics and even sometimes seen as a force of social good. That wasn’t the case, to say the least, with most blockbusters from the three decades or so preceding its inception. A lot of us look back on the 90s as a pretty remarkable time for cinema, but if you’d have asked critics in 1997 “Are films as good as ever?”, I think most or all of them would have said, at least regarding American films, that they were far better either in the 40s or the 70s, and that films had been terminally dumbed down since, with truly great films being the exception. I think you’d find more critics willing to make the case that films are actually better than ever today. Are there quite a few people who don’t like the MCU? Sure, but they are like people who throw pebbles (small stones, not Willma Jr. or the cereal that bears her name) almost inaudibly at the king’s back window. The king sure is pissed about it though; it’s both hilarious and kind of sad that there are so many people who see Scorsese as a modern day Skeletor, manically laughing on his throne while his devious attempts at (gasp!) “gatekeeping” the MCU away from the AFI Top 100 or whatever they think he’s doing fail at the force of their mighty opening weekends. Remember when Bob Iger wanted to “arrange a meeting” with Scorsese to talk about his feelings on the MCU like he was (ironically) a fucking mob boss or something?

    Although I will say CJ has a point that EEAAO “still got made and earned way more money than anybody expected so far”. It is a bit galling sometimes that modern artists don’t seem to acknowledge how lucky they are to make work on the level that they do, when it’s a dream for countless others to make something on a tenth of that level (if that). “Hey guys, it’s nice that I got to make my 52 episode semi-autobiographical animated series that earned rave reviews and several awards, and it’s cool that I’m getting fan art sent to me from every corner of the globe, but it’s not as popular as Spongebob and I wanted to make a third series and it wasn’t greenlit, so I think you can only conclude that I was SCREWED OVER!” And many agree! I know it’s a bit different with films like EEAAO that come from a creatively under-represented community, in cases like this maybe it’s my own knee-jerk reaction to what I sometimes perceive as conceitedness or bullishness I need to keep in check. And there was a time (2000-2001, not an intellectual high point for our culture I think most would agree) where CROUCHING TIGER could be in the Top 15 movies for the year, so you can see why people might think there could be a world where this (not all subtitled!) film could be doing a little better still.

  39. We get it, you believe Kevin Feige killed independent cinema or whatever. Yet your movie still got made

    It got made by the two guys responsible for the lion’s share of Marvel’s money, lately. So her grapes can’t be that sour…

  40. To clarify a little, my problem is absolutely NOT that there are people who don’t like Superhero movies, it’s just that in the last two or three years the negative discourse about them went from “They are well done, but I guess they are not my cup of tea” to “I like REAL movies because I am an INTELLIGENT adult and only babies and sheeple enjoy that comic book fast food, so excuse me, while I’m laughing at you with disgust!”

    I mean, the comic book movie renaissance after the BATMAN & ROBIN armageddon has been going since 2005 and really kicked off in 2008 with both IRON MAN and THE DARK KNIGHT. Sure, some of the shine started to wear off, but that’s almost 20 years of capes and superpowers in the A-list! The genre is still going strong, is full of beloved and acclaimed award winning character actors in all kinds of roles, from multi-picture protagonists to one-off villains, who are most of the time in it because they enjoy it and don’t just phone it in for an easy paycheck and some of these movies have been pushing special effect technology in ways, that people don’t even realize how groundbreaking some of the stuff they just saw was. And most of all: It still attracts a whole bunch of talented writers and directors who are willing and able to tweak the formula in fresh ways and leave their personal fingerprints all over them.

    And yet: “This is personality free lowest common denominator simpleton bullshit about a bunch of guys pretending to shoot beams out of their eyes in front of a green screen” is suddenly an accepted truth that has been repeated so many times, that it went back to being a boring generalisation again.

    Like I said, they don’t have to like it, but sometimes it becomes awfully clear that some people judge a whole genre based on the trailers. It’s not hard to imagine Jamie Lee Curtis verbally ripping someone a new one, who would call any of her HALLOWEEN movies “Another one where Jamie Lee screams at a guy in mask who stabs naked teens in the head”.

  41. CJ, I don’t know if I quite perceive the shift in the same way you do, but if there has been a shift in intensity in this topic, it’s because the dominance of superhero films has also been increasing. I know, “but there are [really high number] of non-superhero films made each year!”, but there’s a difference between quantity and prominence. Since 2019, and in particular since the pandemic, it really is starting to feel like there’s a ceiling on how much a non-superhero film can make. Five films have made over $200million at the US Box Office in this time (I’m counting DOC2 STRANGE as it will be there very shortly), all superhero films of some kind; even fucking VENOM 2 is in there! Cinemas may not have pulled NIGHTMARE ALLEY screenings to fit in more NO WAY HOME screenings in your town, but it did happen, it’s not a myth. Now I’m pretty sure JURASSIC WORLD 3 will break this streak (yay?), and there have been some slightly atypical films that have done pretty well (most notably A QUITE PLACE II), but it does paint a picture.

    Also, not to “both sides” this, but there *has*, not surprisingly, been an escalation in the intensity of both the adoration and criticism these films (specifically the MCU and I guess you could add the Snyder films) have received. 5 years ago MCU fans would most likely say they “loved it” because it’s “fun” and “cool”. These days I’m sure most would say the same, but there’s a lot of “they are the most blah blah of all time, needs Oscars, yadda, yadda, like ancient Greek mythology, like the bible, stop gatekeeping”. I also question how much of an issue it is that there are “negative generalisations” about these films when they clearly aren’t affecting their popularity, and only slightly dinting their acclaim.

    But perhaps we should take this conversation to the DOCTOR STRANGE thread, and not make the talkback for this film yet another MCU debate on the internet? Or maybe not, just a thought.

  42. While I don’t want to spark anymore debate about the ‘intensity’ of debate about the merits of superhero movies, I will make a comment that to me it doesn’t appear to be anything remarkable about the debate surrounding the artistic worthiness of modern superhero movies.

    If you consider the post 2000 superhero movies the dominate style of popular movie – especially since mid 2000s, it’s not a new phenomena that fans/critics/filmmakers debate the merits of the dominate film ‘genre.’

    Going back over the history of film you see many dominate types of popular film – ‘serials’ in the first decades, westerns (1930s- 50s), musicals( 40s-50s), new wave(1960s), urban crime (1970s), a certain type of glossy comedy in the 1980s-90s, etc. perhaps I’m generalizing a bit and not explicitly covering everything, but debating the merits of a type/genre/style of popular filmmaking film is not at all new. I’m probably most familiar with westerns and musicals. But as an example – Sergio Leone’s spaghettis westerns were hardly seen as great works of film art when they were released by most critics, but boy are they now.

    And it was/is hardly a new thing to consider ‘modern’ superhero movies great films/art. If you consider the first ‘modern’ superhero movie SUPERMAN from 1978, well it was widely considered one of the 10 best of the year, universally well reviewed. Roger Ebert 4 starred it, Siskel gave it 3 stars, Variety praised it to the roof. BATMAN 1989 got terrific reviews from most critics, actually critics liked it much better than comic fans, who really only came around in the following years. STAR WARS 1977 is also basically a superhero movie in many respects – it was Oscar nominated and made a good chunk of change!

    The difference now is that there are a heck of a lot more of them, speaking specifically of the modern superhero movie, I think. It’s much like the original film serials from the 1910s to 1940s – a few in the beginning, mostly not so good, a mid peak where things reach an artistic high point, and perhaps the inevitable downfall to come?

    As for Martin Scorsese – I think he rightly doesn’t especially like that the sitting in a theatre movie choice is limited compared to past decades – just look at the critical/artistic quality of the highest grossing movies from the late 1960s – mid 1970s to see what was financially successful at the box office, but I do disagree with him that there is less choice out there , it’s just migrating to different places of course – streaming/online. And that does kind of suck – god knows I would rather experience the nest Taxi Driver/Godfather/French Connection on the big screen and not my tv screen – but it might be inevitable.

    A word on the intensity of debate (since I can’t resist, oh no.)

    For me the intensity debate really began to go haywire after THE DARK KNIGHT. Jim Emerson on Roger Ebert.com wrote a very reasoned, well argued take down of the artistic merits of Nolan’s filmmaking – specifically the action scenes. It provoked a huge, crazed and fanatical reaction – that quickly devolved into name calling and such. All he was doing was calling into question legitimate – sound points, and the attack lacked almost none of the same in return.

    I see nothing inherently wrong with intelligently debating legitimate concerns – passionately and respectfully.

    Cheers,

  43. dreadguacamole

    May 9th, 2022 at 5:48 am

    People got tired of the Marvel omnipresence. It’s natural for people that didn’t like them to get more sour as it goes on. They’re also pushing back against the prevailing cultural discourse.

    The kind of talk CJ mentioned was normal for any genre stuff back in the day – To expand on what KayKay said, the cultural conversation shifted to be more inclusive over the… I want to say the 00’s? as criticism evolved and came to recognize more movie genres as Art, or at least accept and discuss them as if they were. I suspect that the people with the most vitriol against Marvel are the same people who wouldn’t have a lot of time for oily musclemen back in the day, or slashers, or whatever.

    To be fair, if what you look for in a movie is what it says about the human condition or deeply felt, personal messages… then you’re going to find slim pickings in most of the superhero movies. Same as with most genres; Different priorities.

    Then there’s the assholes who’d discard Everything Everywhere (which seems like it does have something to say? I dunno, haven’t seen it yet!) because of the genre trappings… but fuck them. Luckily they’ve mostly been relegated to academia.

    Personally, I think there are degrees to which something aspires to be more than a commercial product (aesthetically, philosophically or ideologically – that’s my personal definition of what I categorize as art, and I’m sticking to it for now!), and again personally I feel the MCU maybe doesn’t always hold up to that standard. But other people’s definition of art will differ, and I’m not a comics fan; my appreciation of this stuff will obviously not be the same.

    Reminds me a bit of where gaming was a bit back when Roger Ebert opened that can of worms… let’s hope when more actually artsy superhero movies start coming out a sizable chunk of fans don’t say “You know what? Fuck being art, let’s be retrograde assholes instead.”

  44. I agree with Chuck. Jamie Lee was just having fun because she’s extremely, rightfully proud of this underdog movie and sad knowing it was about to be unceremoniously swatted back to earth by a similarly themed Marvel movie. She was right – even this here comments sections has become about Marvel movies. I like super hero movies and agree with CJ that it’s corny to complain about them but if she had sincerely done that I think doing it in the name of this great movie would be honorable.

  45. I’m sure positing your weird little movie as the nemesis of the most popular thing on earth is a great strategy that will definitely work out for them. Everybody loves the hard sell and there will absolutely not be a backlash when the film turns out to not be the second coming but actually just a clever film that might have surprised people if they weren’t conditioned to see it as the fulcrum of yet another exhausting culture war.

    I feel like we used to be able to love stuff without hating something else. But maybe I’m just being naive. There’s always been Star Wars vs. Star Trek. Marvel vs. DC. Addams Family vs Munsters. It’s never enough that our side wins. Something else has to lose.

    Humans hate each other so much, we can’t even let one another enjoy a movie in peace. It’s exhausting.

  46. This isn’t a comment against Jamie Lee, who is just doing her usual unconditional grandma love thing, which is always delightful. I don’t believe that she watches or has opinions about Marvel movies any more than she watches or has opinions about horror movies, which doesn’t stop her from assuring us that whatever one she happens to be starring in at any given time is the best one out there. Same energy here. That’s just Jamie Lee and it’s why we love her. I am more talking about the Twitter zombies who take every tweet at face value and are ready to go to war over what is clearly a joke. Sure, it’ll drive away more potential viewers of this movie than it will attract, but who cares about being effective when you can be performatively correct?

  47. I don’t know how far back you’d have to go to find something pretty much everyone could agree is at least pretty good and/or has some merit. Golden age SIMPSONS maybe? And obviously at the time there were people who were vehemently against that. Universal adoration only happens in retrospect; remember no less than [REDACTED] notes he doesn’t like The Beatles in 1964’s [REDACT]FINGER. Even something that’s incredibly popular is still not necessarily liked by a majority of people; the best selling album of all time, THRILLER, is estimated to have sold between 50 and 70million albums, a fraction of the people who have been alive since 1983. AVENGERS ENDGAME sold 94million tickets in the US, huge yes, but even if every ticket represented a unique customer (which it obviously didn’t), only 2 out of 3 Americans didn’t see it.

  48. *Did see it*!

  49. I’m not talking about everybody liking the same thing. That’s never gonna happen, nor should it. I’m talking about people treating the thing they don’t like as the opposing avatar in the trial-by-combat battle they apparently think is being waged to control the fate of the universe. Like it’s simply not possible to enjoy both DR. STRANGE 2: DOC STRANGER and EVERYTHING ETC. I wish people would get a fuckin’ identity of their own so they wouldn’t have to put all their eggs in the “I like good movies unlike people who like X who are human garbage” basket but that would require effort.

    I’m not saying I’m any different. I think this is just human nature and it is why the sun will soon raze us from the skin of the earth like the malignant malinoma that we are. We can’t even stop tearing each other down over the things we love. How are we ever gonna get together when the shit really hits the fan?

    In conclusion, I am looking forward to seeing both 2DOC2STRANGE and EVERYTHING ET AL and never talking about them with anyone ever.

  50. How can there be any debate or division about the glory of superhero movies when it’s universally known that the best thing ever filmed was when the Flash entered the speed force?

  51. Not since AVATAR and DISTRICT 9 has there been such a pointless rivalry between mainstream and hipster versions of the same damn premise.

    I’m puzzled by people who weren’t excited to see both STRANGE 2 and EEAAO in the theater. Some of us love Michelle Yeoh *and* Sam Raimi. Throw in the recent Nicolas Cage love-fest and 2022 is already one of my favorite movie years ever.

    Also, I’m curious to know why Curtis is sure that the catering budget of a Marvel movie is bigger than the entire budget of EEAAO, or why this would even be a realistic assumption. Perhaps Marvel movies either have really fat crewmembers and bulimic actors, or they throw a hell of a lot of unused food away.

  52. Also, the type of person who hates Marvel tends to hate SF/fantasy and genre films generally, regarding them as inferior to realistic dramas. So I can’t imagine them having much time for EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE either. I have no idea what audience Jamie Lee Curtis thinks she’s reaching.

  53. I don’t agree with that take, Curt. I haven’t seen most of the Marvel movies cause I couldn’t give much of a shit, but Everything is right up my alley. Saw Dune and liked it too. Maybe some snobs are like that but I don’t really think that’s the case in general.

    Jamie Lee was just compraing two multiverse movies which happen to be out at the same time. I think Marvel can hack it.

  54. Muh, to me there’s a distinction between people who just aren’t particularly interested in Marvel and/or superhero movies (such as yourself) and the people who loudly, angrily, bitterly oppose them for being The Enemy Of Cinema. The former are fine, the latter get on my nerves.

  55. If I’m not mistaken this started with someone pointing out Jamie Lee Curtis made a funny post and now we’re up in arms about a supposed movement of pro EVERYTHING IS EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE anti super hero militants? Is there some example of this being an actual thing, or did we just overanalyze a joke so bad we started a moral panic? I’m so confused.

  56. Worth bearing in mind that people do not choose what they like, or indeed what they are like. It’s an accepted truism that Rollercoasters are fun, but you might not think so if you have vertigo. I’d like to be an MCU fan. I don’t quite know what my problem is. I have concerns about what their dominance might entail culturally, but I certainly recognise their long-term success as an incredible achievement. Most of them are solid enough movies that work just fine, a few of them are better than that, and even the weakest ones are still in the watchable 4.5/10 range. But somehow I just don’t like them that much, they just aren’t that charming to me. I can come up with a few reasons (too much tension-deflating humour, not that aesthetically interesting, don’t really enjoy the final battles), but nothing definitive, and probably nothing that couldn’t also be applied to stuff I like. I wish I liked the MCU more, rather than liking crummy 80s cartoons (or even good ones), 50s Radio comedies, 90s Syndicated (and syndicated-esque) TV shows, and old British humour comics. But I don’t. Hey, you know what would have been really good is if I were good at sport. Especially back at school, that would have been good. Also, I wish I had a better metabolism. I don’t even like food that much really, and I’ve never eaten meat, I shouldn’t struggle with weight as much as I do. And when I worked really hard and lost a lot of weight, my older friends had an intervention because they thought I was sick or depressed or something. Bah!

    How much are you billing for this session again?

  57. Like sports? The team from my hometown is the best and I can’t see how anyone can feel that way about their own hometown team when they know mine exists so I must ridicule them for their poor liking a different team.

  58. Remember Waymond’s plea. Be kind.

  59. Honestly, I probably enjoy MCU as much as most people, and I liked superheroes and comics since childhood. But now that Marvel is pumping out movies like a machine, I usually find myself enjoying the less polished superhero movies: THE BATMANS, VENOMS, BLOODSHOTS, THE NEW MUTANTS etc.

    I think the last Marvel movie I saw was BLACK WIDOW and the comic book Natasha might be my favorite female superhero, but, similarly to Curtis, I was praising Luc Besson’s ANNA over BLACK WIDOW. I even called it the real BLACK WIDOW movie. It stems from knowing and being into something from such a long time that you want it done in the way you like, and not in the current, popular MCU way. That doesn’t mean I think the MCU version of these characters is actually wrong, but it’s not necessary always what I want from them.

    So, yeah, obviously there are genre film people who hate Marvel. This whole comment section is full of genre film fans who love or hate genre movies based on minute – and I’m sure, ridiculous and, to the uninitiated, not really that different – details.

  60. I used to love going to the movies, but the pandemic kind of broke that spell. I went twice in that brief period between the vaccine coming out and everybody realizing that it wasn’t gonna do anything because there’s no vaccine for stupid, and both times it was underwhelming and not worth the hassle. So I’d kind of decided going to the theater was another one of those things I don’t really need anymore.

    And that was fine for as long as theaters were loaded with pandemic leftovers. But then all of a sudden a bunch of interesting-looking movies started coming out in theaters, and I noticed something. I don’t miss the theater–like the actual building–but not having immediate access to the movies I want to see created an odd bitterness in me. Everybody else would get to discuss these films and I’d either feel left out or I’d go into defense mode and assume they couldn’t actually be as good as everybody says. If they were, wouldn’t I have put in some effort to see them? I realized that window of inaccessibility between the theatrical and home releases made me resent these movies that had the audacity to exist without considering my viewing preferences. I began to feel disconnected from movies. And when I feel disconnected from movies, I feel disconnected from the human race.

    Well, more so, anyway.

    So yesterday I woke up and had the sudden urge to go see a movie. I figured it would be good for me. My choices were 2DOC2STRANGE and EVERYTHING ETC. (I also could have seen THE MAN WHO NORTHS but decided not to push my luck. I figure there’s still a better than average chance I’d hate it, and that would be detrimental to this little “rejoining humanity” experiment I’ve got going on here.) If I’m being honest, I would have rather seen DR. STRANGE. I’d like to say I chose EVERYTHING ET AL because I wanted to support original film, but the deciding factor was mere self-preservation: I figured there was a much higher chance of being surrounded by filthy, disease-ridden humans at a matinee of a week-old Marvel movie than a month-old arthouse sci-fi kung-fu comedy starring Asians. And I was right–there were four other people in the theater with me, and I didn’t come within 20 feet of any of them. Perfect.

    As for the movie…it’s hard to explain. There’s nothing I can fault about it except I didn’t really react to it emotionally. I didn’t laugh at the jokes even when I admired them conceptually, and I think my reaction to the climax was the opposite of the one intended. It’s not that I wasn’t entertained or at least interested the entire way, and I consider it high praise in this day and age of needlessly protracted running times that there was never a good time to go to the bathroom. I respect that. I respect the whole endeavor.

    My best explanation for this feeling of remove is that I did not find the film’s thesis convincing. Maybe this is something that will change on a second viewing, but I spent most of the movie trying to do the algebra on the themes, so I wasn’t even particularly invested in the action. There was definitely a chunk in the middle there where I was surprised to find myself thinking “Is this all this is? A series of unlikely kung fu battles in an ugly office complex?” I have happily watched a number of films with that exact premise but in this one, I kind of just wanted to get to the answer to the emotional equation it was posing. I knew none of these fights were going to solve anything so they all felt curiously redundant.

    I don’t think the problem is that I couldn’t relate to the film. In many ways, it felt like it was speaking directly to me in the same way many of my best friends do when I disappear down one of my black holes. Pleading with me, even. “Yes,” the film is saying, “life is shit, but here are the things that make it worth living anyway.” And just like I do with those friends of mine, I found myself reacting with my usual mix of denial, dismissal, and devil’s advocacy. Once I realized the film was primarily focused on addressing the existential problem of finding meaning in a world of random cruelty, I was eager to see what solution it came up with…while also suspecting that I would not be satisfied with it. And I wasn’t. It became pretty clear around the reveal of the Big Black Bagel of Eternal Sadness that this was all leading up to just another fucking pep talk. Really? All that for “Hey, did you hear about this thing they got nowadays where everything has sucked since the dawn of time but love is the fifth element or whatever?” Holy fuck, man, you’ve really blown my mind with this one. It felt like somebody who got sad one time in high school when they got dumped thinking they can relate to someone with chronic depression. I’ve heard your platitudes before, dude, and I’m sure you’re not wrong, but they do not help, never have helped, never wil help, and honestly just make me feel worse. This movie that everybody else finds so uplifting honestly just depressed me more.

    This is a me problem, for sure. This happens to me a lot, sadly. When you spend two hours laboriously establishing that life is an unrewarding slog of resentment and regret and that love is just a chain shackling you to people you don’t even like, you’re not gonna win me over with five minutes of “Yeah, but sometimes it sucks less!” Because the mom is still an annoying nag, the dad is still a doormat who should definitly go through with that divorce, and the girlfriend should probably run far, far away because that’s exactly how the daughter is going to start treating her in a couple years. Everything still sucks. And that’s with the intervention of cosmic all-knowingness. What hope do I have, a guy who will probably never even once get to commune with a parallel universe version of myself and my loved ones, of ever finding catharsis? I also have a mother who loves me and whom I love but neither of us know how to do it in a way that’s at all useful to the other, and, without some pretty major sci-fi machinations, we’re never, ever going to have that moment of understanding that mother and daughter enjoy here. So congratulations, movie: You have convinced me to step into the Bagel Of Doom.

    “Be kind”? Really? That’s all you got?

    But it’s not like the cheesy pep talk the film lands on is wrong. There IS no way to get through this torment we call life except to savor the few good moments and cling to the people and things we love, no matter how stupid it is that we love them. That’s it. That’s all there is. It might be so common a message as to feel trite, but that’s because there is no other possible answer. Two plus two always equalling four doesn’t make it a cliche. But I can’t help feeling the same way I do whenever I get that advice in the real world: I believe you, but it’s not enough. I can see the logic of the argument but it offers me no comfort.

    But that’s all my baggage. The film is obviously some kind of triumph just for existing, and it certainly got me thinking. Im just not quite sure how I feel about it. I know it’s possible to enjoy a film without agreeing with it. DIRTY HARRY, for instance. But it’s harder in the case of a film like this one, which is attempting nothing less than to prove, once and for all, that life is worth living.

    That’s not how I felt leaving the theater. I left wanting a bagel.

  61. Jesus… Sounds like maybe you should have tried your luck with THE NORTHMAN. It couldn’t have been a worse experience.

  62. I am maybe overstating it. This was my intellectual reaction to the film. I didn’t have an emotional one, so it’s not like I left the theater in tears or anything. It was a perfectly entertaining watch. It’s just that the thoughts it left me with were not the uplifting ones the filmmakers intended. I have those thoughts fairly regularly, though, so it was no huge hardship. I’m still glad I saw it.

  63. Majestyk, I had a slightly similar reaction to the film. I thought it was clever and entertaining but it didn’t really move me like it did other people.

    I think maybe for the opposite reason – a lot of my paths in life not taken would have been dead ends once the pandemic started, so if there is a multiverse I feel like I’m in one of the few timelines where things worked out OK. But enough about me…

    Perhaps meaning is something to be created through action and accomplishment, not sought from outside sources.

    You are a great writer. Even (or especially?) when you’re in a funk, your comments are very articulate and entertaining to read. You should do something with that talent if you’re not already, whether it’s writing reviews or poems or a novel.

    There is satisfaction from harnessing one’s tumultuous thoughts and giving them creative form. And if doing so brings entertainment to others then that can be its own kind of reward.

    I would maybe also recommend watching more ridiculous comedies. They don’t answer life’s questions as EEAAO seemingly aspires to do, but they might lighten its load more effectively. The Nic Cage movie UNBREAKABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT got a mixed reaction from Vern and others here, but I thought it was very funny and entertaining.

  64. That was very bleak, but thank you for sharing it with us, Majestyk. Sincerely.

  65. dreadguacamole

    May 13th, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    Majestyk – I’ll echo what everyone else has said and thank you, that was very powerful and well put.

    I’m looking forward to watching Everything…, but I don’t expect it to offer any particularly deep insights; I liked the Gondry-isms in Swiss Army Man, but the last stretch, when it got ‘sincere’, were incredibly, cringe-inducingly bad- it seemed like a parody of an overtly earnest indie film, just painful to watch. I get that the Daniels have stepped up their game considerably but I wouldn’t expect them to be able to do something most of our thinkers haven’t been able to.

    Solutions and Answers in movies will always be platitudes and pep talks; best you’re going to get is not for depression, but about depression – outside of literature, things like Lars Von Trier’s trolling, Loach wallowing in it, or, say, the series Bojack Horseman observing various characters go through their own problems and watch how they deal with it. Or as Curt said, awesome or ridiculous stuff to get away from it; there’s value in escapism.

    I don’t know you, obviously, but I’ve lurked these forums for years and while I may not agree with you a lot of the time, yours is a distinctive voice, always worth listening to. All the best, dude.

  66. Hey, guys, thanks for the input. I guess I didn’t really notice how bleak that comment was while I was writing it. I am not feeling particularly depressive at the moment, so the movie didn’t send me into a tailspin. This was more like a semi-clinical assessment of what I’m like when I’m in that zone, not an actual real-time missive from that zone.

    Curt: Way ahead of you, buddy. I am never not working on a new novel. It is pretty much the only thing I am on this planet for, and it does wonders for my sense of purpose. I might be a broke loser who is terrified of close relationships, but goddammit, I am a Writer.

  67. I am glad you are feeling better, and I disagree that you are a loser or that this is useful term.

    Is all of that omni-directed hatred and ingratitude for existence really just your subjective “baggage,” or are you, in fact, promoting it as a quasi-religious metaphysic and life philosophy that any sober, courageous, equally intelligent human would reach if they had the stones. ?? Because it sure sounds like the latter — in general, and in the context of your comment history. And it’s destructive horse shit, so, your non-sorry “woopsie” underwhelms.

    Unfortunately, this will make your better day less good, and I wish I could convey this important sentiment without having that effect, but I think that’s probably impossible under the circumstances. And this is only partly for me, and partly for you, but mostly for any unfortunate reader-observer of the earlier comments who is in dire or suggestible enough straits to listen to you, as you horse-whisper them into despair and self-destruction and think it’s neutralized by the the occasional half-assed “but what the fuck do I know, I’m just thinking out venting.” Does it occur to you that there might be other people hanging by a thread who maintain some hope of getting to better place and who don’t want to embrace their most nihilistic thoughts and follow them to their logical conclusions? Holy fuck.

    And to anyone condoning or lionizing such sentiments, as if it were some act of literary or moral virtue to speak them for the 1000th time (but more eloquently than ever!), I strongly dissent. Nope. Good Fucking Friday — In a world of hyper-sensitivity about all forms of language and verbal “harm,” we decide to make a courtesy exception for the special case of relentlessly promoting hopelessness and ingratitude like the fucking Bizarro Upside Down Tony Robbins from Hell and then mocking anyone with the temerity to think that “be kind and love others” is more than a Hallmark cliche.

    I hope you continue writing and put those gifts to a some purpose other than poisoning others’ minds and hearts and then non-apologizing for it as though it were a faint burp after a large family meal.

  68. Oh, look, here comes my hero again with the tough love, scolding me for not feeling the way he wants me to. I better shut up and smile now or he’ll give me a spanking.

    I don’t recall apologizing for anything I said. Nor do I feel that I have anything to apologize for. I was honest and sincere. I cannot be responsible for what someone else chooses to do with my words. Our host thanked me for my comment, so I’m gonna go ahead and continue assuming that I’m not poisoning impressionable minds by sharing my thoughts, as deplorable as you may find them.

    Also, and I mean this from the heart, fuck all the way off, you condescending prick. I’ve been meaning to say this for a long time, but I held off because I figured your heart was probably in the right place. Now I don’t give a shit. If you find my comments so objectionable, I advise you to stop reading them. I will be doing likewise with yours.

  69. dreadguacamole

    May 14th, 2022 at 4:08 pm

    Wow. I came here to gush about this film, having just seen it, and… well, fuck it, I’m going to gush about it. Stray thoughts:

    Spoilers below. Many many spoilers.

    – As far as multiverse films go, I’m still team Spiderverse, but this is a very close second despite having a few of issues. What a clever, joyful, exuberant, awesome mess these people have made.

    – The first twenty minutes of this felt like a panic attack. Not to the same extent as Mother! or something like that, but a very relatable and mundane waking nightmare.

    – At first I thought Racoocoony was an actual cheap cartoon mockbuster -you know, like Karate Panda or the Dingo Pictures catalog- until they expanded on the joke. Inspired.

    – Checkhov’s buttplug!

    – These twee indie motherfuckers, along with the directors of some of the most joyless blockbuster action I know of*, have managed to make fight scenes that hewed closer to classic Jackie Chan than anything I’ve seen from China/Hong Kong in a few years. I’m not a fan of the frame skipping, but other than that, I was bowled over.

    – It’s densely packed with incredible visuals. The bit where Evil Joy tilts her head across different realities is the one that sticks, but there were loads of awesome little moments.

    – Michelle Yeoh has had nothing to prove for ages now, and yet she keeps doing so over and over. I’m hoping this film will be a CODA-like outsider oscar contender, because the lady deserves one.

    – Evelyn is presented as the worst possible version of herself in every possible reality, and still… she owns a business and a house that (clutter aside) is much better than the one I’m renting with no possibility of ever owning. Ouch.

    – The theme that most resonated with me is that reality seems off these days, somehow (I took it to mean the rise and mainstreaming of assorted -isms); that’s what I felt Short Round’s ‘Be Kind’ spiel addressed, and the ‘fight’ that plays afterwards. I may have misunderstood that since the cause ends up being mommy issues, and anyhow that fight was too cute by half, but it still really worked for me.

    – The second ending, where everyone everywhere gets a Hollywood ending did feel too saccharine for me. Sometimes a divorce is the healthiest option, you know? Painting it as a bad thing that can and should be fixed is kind of messed up, but I guess that’s where Hollywood culture has been for ages. But what most bothered me was that she didn’t have to resolve everything with her daughter right there; just give them both space and time to sort those things out (or not). Especially grating because the film felt like it was going to have a little more emotional honesty than that.

    – I need to watch this with subtitles – I missed the symbolism of the bagel. Specifically, why was it a bagel?

    – But you know what? The ending they went for is the ending they wanted, and hell, they earned it, it’s a minor issue and definitely not a deal-breaker for me. What a lovely film.

    – I kind of hated Swiss Army Man. Despite having some good moments and visuals, it felt like a provocation in search of a movie, or like something they’d done as a dare. And sheesh, that ending… Yet everything that was there is also here, just a lot more thought-through and with much better writing. I’m so glad they got the chance to make this.

    – What the hell is up with Piñata world? Some kids were hitting the piñatas, do humans and piñatas live alongside each other like Blade or Roger Rabbit? Do the humans know the piñatas are sentient? I need a streaming-exclusive series to explain how it all works to me please.

    *: Come for the barely coherent thoughts, stay for the gratuitous Russo bros bashing!

  70. Dreadguacamole, I think the symbolism of the bagel is just a jokey reference to the “everything bagel” offered by delicatessens that sell bagels. (“Do you want a sesame seed bagel, a cinnamon raisin bagel, etc … or an everything bagel?”)

    So it’s all flavors combined, and thus all realities combined. That plus being a circle and a loop and thus some kind of symbol of infinity.

    While watching the movie I did wonder how widely that joke would translate, since I don’t know how common “everything bagels” are outside the US or perhaps certain parts of the US.

  71. I think maybe having a hole at the center is also a part of the metaphor.

  72. It’s also (apologies if someone else mentioned this elsewhere in the comments) a yin-yang thing. The googly eye is something surrounded by nothing. The bagel is a nothing surrounded by something. Yin and yang.

  73. dreadguacamole

    May 15th, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    Cheers folks – that helps. I missed some of the dialogue from Alpha Waymond where some bagels featured prominently in the table in front of them, thought it might have been explained there. (I think he said something about all cows being dead and something something about clay pots in his universe?)
    Don’t think everything bagels are a thing here in the UK, or at least not in the bagel places I’ve been to.

  74. “While watching the movie I did wonder how widely that joke would translate, since I don’t know how common “everything bagels” are outside the US or perhaps certain parts of the US.”

    Thanks for the explanation, Curt. It’ll help me when I get around to watching this movie.

    In my neck of the world, walk into most bakeries and say “bagel” and you’ll most likely be met with blank stares.

    “Buns” are the most commonly used term here to encompass any bread-based pastry. We are very well aware of doughnuts and croissants, but the “bagel” hasn’t really travelled.

  75. @Skani
    I had a lot of adverse reactions to what I considered bullshit and unconvincing positivity in movies. I don’t think I ever went as hard or quite the same way as Majestyk, but I think it’s a valid take.

    Although, honestly the last couple of years, and the world slowly turning into a real-life fictional dystopia, got me clamoring for positivity like never before. That’s one of the reasons why I liked the last THE BATMAN so much, and I don’t agree with people who call it uber-dark and not escapist. When the final credits started rolling I was like, yes, Gotham City is in shambles, but Batman, Jim Gordon, and that young lady mayor can still fix it. Oh, naive optimism, I missed you so much (nervous laughter).

  76. So, just saw this and let me get the biggest gripe off my chest first:

    Too.Fucking.Long!

    I’ll agree with some of the comments above that if you’re going to string me along for 140 mins, then it better be in the service of leading up to some mind-blowing revelatory insight, not the much-trod territory of “families are messy, but they’re worth it” and then proceed to ponderously hammer that point over and over again past the point of tedium.

    Having said that, damn if this film didn’t touch my nerves and fire off the synapses linked to my typically Asian upbringing. That scene where Yeoh is basically fat-shaming her daughter in the parking lot hit me hard, triggering unpleasant adolescent flashbacks to my mum basically telling her friends, my friends, our relatives and everyone within earshot how her “fat son” was “lazy, lacks initiative, hardly studies and can’t even go out for a walk even though he’s getting larger”. That particular malady of Asian parents of a generation and their utter inability to communicate with their children without nitpicking every single perceived flaw in their personality is just brilliantly conveyed in this film. And Yeoh, given her best role in years, is just sublime, her face conveying frustration, resignation, love, bafflement, fear and regret so subtly she makes you feel everything she’s experiencing.I know it’s practically a cliche by now to suggest a performance deserves at least a Nomination, but I’ll go right ahead and say that in a just world, Yeoh should get a Best Actress nod at least for her role here.

    But that’s not to say Mr.Round comes up…Short. Quan is the real revelation here. Just when you think he’s doing the harried, hapless hubby so well, he breaks out some prime Jackie Chan moves and when that’s barely sunk in, here he is giving off Tony Leung-levels of smoldering charisma in a film made by auteurs so attuned to Asian Cinema they can reference both POLICE STORY and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE fluidly within a single film while both respecting one of it’s premier Female Stars’ acting talent and acknowledging her Action Iconography at the same time. Mad props to the Daniels!

    Shave 30 mins off this and this could easily be hands down, my favorite movie of the year. But as it stands, this is still a wildly entertaining, frequently wacky, gleefully irreverent and periodically touching film not to mention the Multiverse Flick which we may not need, but sure as hell deserve.

  77. Finally caught this last night, doubtless shortly before it disappears from UK screens. Loved it. Loved this review too. I want to compare it to JACKIE BROWN, as that was the first movie that came to mind where the film-makers were as in love with their star and the films that made her as this one is. Although, I think Tarantino’s love for Pam Grier was more carnal.

    I won’t argue with anyone who says that Ke Huy Quan is the MVP here, but as his role is basically the one who believes in Evelyn, it all comes back to Yeoh. So much just made me smile with idiotic delight, which is different to laughing at the jokes. That IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE sequence was perfect.

    And personally, I found it did hit hard. Certainly more than I expected. Much of that was personal, and most of it doesn’t feel like my story to tell, but I can see how family, hugs and being kind may not be the answer everyone was looking for. Nevertheless, there’s an emphasis in the movie on taking action – on actually being kind – and I appreciate that in my action movies. As much as anything, this reinforces my view that there’s no limit to the kind of stories action movies can tell. I’d almost certainly have tired quickly of the Sundance indie version of this movie where a woman goes through a series of familial crises but emerges stronger at the end.

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