“There’s a great evil spreading throughout the multiverse and you may be our only chance of stopping it.”
Nope, this isn’t a quote from the preview for the next Marvel movie. It’s instead about a protagonist who is apparently behind on her taxes, hounded by a very dumpy-looking Jaimie Lee Curtis.
Everything Everywhere All At Once, coming to theaters from A24 Studios in spring 2022 presents an anti-superhero film that eschews easy plot structures, preternatural heroes, billionaire world savers, and extraterrestrial monsters for a cracked reality and an incredulous, skeptical hero. The preview for EEAAO might require multiple views to just get a grip on its disconnected parts. Equal parts action, surreal psychedelia, and slapstick humor, each dive further into the film’s multiverse preview reveals additional intrigue, further adventure, and more fun.
Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, an aging Chinese immigrant whose reality snaps during the aforementioned IRS interrogation. At the tensest part of the dress down, Mrs. Wang’s world very literally breaks, leaving her looking into two worlds at once. Mrs. Wang soon learns that she is subject to a strange condition where she can see into different perspective selves across the multiverse, allowing her to exist in a multiplicity of worlds at once. There is, of course, a reason behind this existential slip into other worlds.
“Across the multiverse, I’ve seen thousands of Evelyns. You can access all of their memories, their emotions, even their skills,” Ke Huy Quan, Wang’s husband, explains. “There’s a great evil spreading across the many verses. And you may be our only chance of stopping it.”
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What follows is a phantasmagoria of action across Wang’s multitudinous lives — heads exploding into a burst of confetti, gangs of office workers/security guards lining up to battle, a doubting ally in a pink and white golf uniform, combat aided by police shields and sandwich boards, laundromats that dissolve into elegant galas, hand-to-hand combat under green trees and pastoral scenes, hair-raising, screeching fingernails that change colors like hallucinatory Christmas lights, and cream curtains that part to reveal a white-pillared, heavenly host.
“The universe is so much bigger than you realize,” a disembodied narrator intones.
It certainly appears to be in EEAAO, especially as we’re carried along by David Bowie’s mystic Time.
Too often movies present redundant plot structures: characters, a problem to solve, obstacles to overcome, friends and fate that step in to help, an explosive, comprehensive solution, and a neat bow that wraps up the action before a post-credits scene sets up the sequel.
The independent, A24 Studios is well-known for taking formulaic narratives and twisting them into the strange, Gordian knots. True to this character, EEAAO veers away from a simple hero’s journey to tell a fantastic tale that is more true to life’s nonlinear mess and more feral than the tame offerings coming from more traditional studios.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is due to arrive in theaters on March 25, 2022.
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