I’ve got your new favorite movie of all time. I mean, if you were looking for a new one – this would be a worthy candidate for a ton of reasons. I mean, what do you have in the BMOAT slot (Best Movie Of All Time… come own, keep up with me.) anyway? Maybe an old and busted Die Hard? Or a terribly overrated Marvel movie? Or a PBS special? Come on, this is better than all of that! Bottom line – this is a touchingly brilliant, incredibly insightful, movie about you and the people in your life that matter. Oh and it’s also about a Bagel with Everything on it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Everything Everywhere All At Once Detailed Walkthrough
Waymond and Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) are a Chinese couple attempting to keep a laundromat afloat, but things aren’t going well at all. Worse, the business is being audited by the IRS. Oh, and their daughter, Joy? She’s gay – and she’s trying to force her mother to accept this reality. We know that she wants to try and figure it out – but just can’t, and instead? Evelyn just belittles her daughter all the more (“You need to eat more naturally, you are getting fat.) And Evelyn’s husband? He’s trying to find the right time to give his wife divorce papers. It’s a Chinese Laundromat tornado that is happening right here.
Then the fun begins. While in the elevator – Alpha Waymond… hold that thought.
In this movie, there are many different Waymond Wongs. (All played by Ke Huy Quan, the Goonies star. (I’d give appendages to interview Quan.)) We’ve got “Alpha Waymond.” He’s a whole new level of Waymond. He’s able to jump dimensions and proactively save day after day by jumping through dimensions and various multiverses. Then we’ve got the “Hot Waymond”… the Waymond that slipped Evelyn’s grasp. And that leads us to the Waymond that started the movie – the frazzled, divorce hunting husband. Having given Evelyn instructions to follow once entering the elevator – AND BLAM – our original Waymond is back. Huh? What is going on here? As we watched Waymond scanning Evelyn, you can see that her life flashes before her eyes, and there are key checkpoints, key gates that are hit, or missed, throughout her life. And they have all brought her to this point today in the elevator… to the mess that is her life.
Switch shoes to the wrong feet
Close eyes, imagine you are in the janitor’s closet
Hold that thought, and press the green button
When she does, she has a conversation with Alpha Waymond again in the closet – and he tells her that he has been searching for her, throughout time, space, and multi-verses… that he’s been looking for someone that would be able to counter the rising evil with good. And that is why he was talking to her. But soon he’s dead, and so is Evelyn… a multi-verse dead end. But in “reality” Evelyn is given til 6pm by the cut throat IRS agent, Deirdre Beaubeirdra (played hilariously by Jaime Lee Curtis), to bring the final Tax forms and receipts necessary to solve this mess. And there you go. There is your plot. Evelyn needs to solve her taxes… and save the universe… by 6pm.
Wait. Hold On. WHAT IS GOING ON?
OK – so quickly we learn that every single choice that everyone makes, in turn makes a totally different universe. But Alpha Evelyn – the recently deceased perfect version of herself, invented Universe-jumping, or “verse-jumping,” a technological capability that makes it possible for the jumper to access skills and memories of their multiversal counterparts. But the entirety of the multi-verse is under threat of destruction by Jobu Tupaki. Who, unfortunately, can morph and change at will… he can manipulate matter, and has formed a “everything bagel” black hole that is going to destroy the multi-verse. But why is Alpha Waymond talking to Evelyn? Well, He believes that Evelyn… who happens to be the single greatest failure of all the Evelyns (which, you have to admit, is saying something really distinct here), she is being hunted by the Jobu Tupaki. Uh, why? Why would he hunt her? Well, because of her unused potential. Her raw – and UNTAPPED – potential. See what they are doing here? Alright, let’s get back to the story.
On the way out of the IRS building, Evelyn realizes that Waymond wants a divorce. But before she is able to really digest this fact, the trio are kept from leaving the building as IRS agents who are actually, Jobu Tupaki agents, come for Evelyn and company. But Alpha Waymond appears again and kicks ass with his fanny pack! It’s a pretty great segment. And to watch my ex-Goonie hero just go full Bruce Lee with a fanny pack was fantastic. Afterward, Waymond explains that everything just feels off, doesn’t it? Like something isn’t right – something cosmically. “And it makes you wonder, who can we get it back? That is the Alpha first mission, to take us back to how it’s supposed to be.” And I have lots, and lots, and lots to say about this Alpha prime directive. But, first, we’ll continue our walkthrough.
Now, Evelyn, after receiving verse-jumping abilities of her own, begins jumping reality after reality – watching as she made an infinite number of different choices and excelled. Ultimately, Evelyn decides that what she really needs to do is to gather all the same powers that Jobu Tupaki has in order to beat her. (You guessed already where this was going right? Whenever you have a time travel movie, or multi-verse movie with a character who has a hidden face… you have to know where it’s going to go. It’s just an unwritten rule. And yes, it turns out that Jobu Tupaki is Evelyn’s daughter… right? Makes perfect sense.) Anyway, while dueling Jobu Tupaki, her mind splinters, breaks and cracks. And in the chaos of it, she learns that Tupaki isn’t wanting to destroy the multi-verse, but rather, to search for an Evelyn that grasps her. Hrmmm. I mean, think about it… there are an infinite number of realities. So really? Nothing matters. It makes sense. Evelyn goes so far in this direction that she almost joins Jobu Tupaki and enters the destructive bagel… but she doesn’t after hearing Waymond’s voice.
In a twist that I absolutely adored, Evelyn outmaneuvers Jobu’s minions by navigating the multi-verse and figuring out what exactly is crushing each of them. And instead of killing them, or hurting them, she helps each one in different ways. Ultimately she “fights” her way to Jobu Tupaki and the talk. Evelyn basically just wants Jobu to know that she isn’t alone… that she would love to spend her life with her. Even though it’s a life of a laundromat owner. Eventually Tupaki and Evelyn embrace. Simultaneously, in different parallel universes, Evelyn reunites with Waymond and Joy.
Cut to the epilogue, and we see that Evelyn’s family relationships have improved. Becky is accepted as a part of the family. As Evelyn heads back to the IRS to submit her taxes for her last opportunity to make amends, Deirdre Beaubeirdra (greatest character name ever) is talking and Evelyn flits out into the multi-verse, and then snaps back to the present.
What’s That Black Bagel? And Who is Jobu Tupaki??
The chaotic center of Everything Everywhere All at Once is this blag bagel. Jobu Tupaki has plans… and those plans are basically the destruction of the multiverse. Bagel sir… explain the bagel. Got it, sorry. Right – the bagel is Jobu Tupaki’s collection of absolutely everything, collapsed into a single location. Tupaki has unlimited power – and with that power, she is vacuuming up literally every single choice, thought, idea, thing… and transferring it to the bagel. She’s just curious to find out what will happen. It’s a power that no one has ever had before – this bagel-esque idea. And with it, she thinks, maybe, she’ll also discern the meaning to life as well. But instead of the meaning of life… Jobu Tupaki has crafted a power that will obliterate anything within its vicinity.
Jobu – the Alpha Verse iteration of Joy – is the perfect anti-villain-villain. She’s totally misunderstood, and completely desperate for the love of the one person in the multi-verse that seems incapable of giving it. Joy seems ready to destroy everything, and yet not. Her goals seem ghastly and horrific, and yet not. Her nihilistic antipathy is the perfect juxtaposition to Evelyn’s upward struggle. But how did she become this evil nemesis? Well, in Alpha timeline, Joy has access to technologies that let the jump from multiverse to multiverse. How? It’s done by entering your alternative version of yourself in a different timeline. The trouble is, that if you travel too much, you risk becoming ungrounded from your home timeline. Simple enough? Well, Joy’s constant time traveling snapped her consciousness across the entirety of the multiverse. And with that, Alpha-verse Joy culminated in her becoming Jobu Tupaki because of her mother’s own unrealistic expectations of her. See where this is going yet? Alpha Evelyn pushed her daughter to become the single best verse-jumper in the multiverse. Push, push, push! And snap. The pressure broke her. She went from trying to please her mother to glorying in the chaos of the power and thrill of it all. Voila, one second she can’t even make her mother happy… and another later, she can control the entirety of reality itself. Ironic. The key to Jobu Tupaki’s power is that she doesn’t need technology… she’s untethered. She is everywhere, and no where. And it’s from this mind blowing vantage that she decides to create the bagel with everything.
Jobu Tupaki – all knowing, all powerful infinite – decides that absolutely nothing matters. And yet, instead of imploding everything and everyone, she begins looking for someone that could grasp her, understand her, and also understand the bagel as well. To understand it prior to her own succumbing to the bagel’s power. But maybe, just maybe, Evelyn would be able to save her, to make everything matter… to make sense once again. And it was this chaotic relationship with her daughter that uniquely prepared her for this challenge. And Evelyn pushing her mind beyond its breaking point, she splits her consciousness so far that she’s able to control reality itself. But it was because of Waymond’s ever present love for her, in every timeline, that Evelyn was able to counter the nihilism of her daughter, and allowed her to hold tight to the idea that there really is something worth living for.
And it was this ever-present love that saves her from getting pulled into the bagel with everything. It was through this love for her husband, and for her daughter… that saved herself. And then it was Evelyn’s realization that her own life was the cause for enormous levels of pain in her own daughter’s life. Which is where the power of this movie comes from. Evelyn’s high expectations created Jobu Tupaki in the alpha world. It was her high expectations that hurt her in their main world. Her push for perfection crushed her. But it was her daughter’s love that was worth fighting for. So, at the end of the day, it was Evelyn’s transformational change, and her love for her daughter that ultimately beat Jobu Tupaki, and brought Joy back to her mother.
Making Heads or Tails of Everything Everywhere All At Once
It surprised me to learn that originally, the movie was written on a trajectory to grapple with the chaos and wildness of the world that was the internet in 2016. But as the writers, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man), began investigating this world, and layering in, layer after layer, it really took this really outrageous vibe, and they sort of realized… they probably need to say something, without actually ever saying it. Here’s Kwan talking about the movie “The question of ‘what if?’ looms over anyone who has had to upend their life and move somewhere else,” Kwan said. “So the multiverse was the perfect place for us to explore that, especially with a middle-aged immigrant person who has had a long life to look back on all their regrets. It wasn’t intentional, but it ended up being the perfect way to explore my parents’ story.”
“We don’t want to say the things we actually want to say. Let’s do it as rocks, but silently!” Kwan said, adding that emotional feedback came from Asian American viewers after screenings. “The fact that the parents kiss at the end is such a small gesture, but for a lot of people it was very powerful — because oftentimes our immigrant parents aren’t afforded the space to have romance or to have the ability to express themselves in that way.” Right? So the powerful part of this film is that we are all stuck in this off-kilter, disjointed, out-of-whack reality of a world. Something doesn’t feel right? Something is amiss. We long for a do-over. We long for another try. And yet, that isn’t possible. So, the power of this movie is to see those that are near us as the real treasures in our lives. To cherish them, as they are. Not hoping for them to become some daring 007 persona. Or a Bruce Lee type. To cherish them, faults, blemishes, scars and all. Evelyn grows over the course of this movie by seeing in her husband the real hero that he is to her day in and day out. By seeing how fantastic her daughter is, and her girlfriend as well.
My Thoughts on Everything Everywhere All at Once
The conceit is brilliant. To be able to dip into, and out of, other multiverses in order to obtain the potential of other possible selves in a heartbeat? Glorious. It basically takes the whole, “I know Kung-fu” to a new level really. And it brings us some gloriously brilliant action sequences. And they are all atypical action sequences. Ke Huy Quan is how old now? And he kicks ass with a fanny pack? I mean??? It’s brilliant! And Evelyn as an action hero? A “middle-aged” mother decimating combatants with a riot shield?! So great. Her pinky flexing? Brilliant. But it was the heart of this movie – the love for family, the love for her children, and the real learning that happened here that made this gloriously trippy movie really a full five stars for me. And with that, we have our new King of the Hill movie for 2022. See the rest of the list here.
Edited by: CY
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