From the moment you started reading this sentence, you’ve already made a number of decisions. Did you skip breakfast? Check your email first? Call out sick even though you feel fine? For every choice you made, there might be another universe where you made the opposite choice.* How does that choice change what you do, where you go, and who you are?

We’re living in a time of multiverses now, a science-fiction concept that might have been too mindbendingly weird for the masses only a few years ago. If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is there are an infinite number of universes existing alongside each other showcasing infinite probabilities.** Assuming people can wrap their heads around it, the concept could be fodder for a number of interesting and daring stories.

But how daring is too daring? Well, considering that Spider-Man: No Way Home features three Spider-Men from alternate realities and it made close to two billion dollars, the multiverse concept is something most folks seem to be able to comfortably deal with. With some narrative handwaving, the most bizarro concepts can be made palatable for normies.

You might not be a normie, however. The idea of multiverses could fill you with a longing for serious cinematic weirdness, though weirdness that doesn’t happen to involve superheroes. Be of good cheer, because Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the directing team known as Daniels and the makers of the beloved farting corpse movie Swiss Army Man have made a new film. It’s Everything Everywhere All At Once, and it might be an honest to God masterpiece.

Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is profoundly exhausted. You can’t blame her, since it feels like everything is hitting her all at once. She owns a laundromat, so her professional life is concerned with an activity that never ends. A mistake has been made with her taxes, and now the laundromat is being audited by the IRS. That means she has to deal with — repeatedly — the notoriously inflexible Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Evelyn’s personal life isn’t much better. She’s expecting a visit from her estranged father Gong Gong (James Hong), who still bears a grudge for Evelyn giving birth to a daughter and not a son. Oh, her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) thinks she’s ready to come out and introduce Joy’s girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel) to the family. Her marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is on extremely thin ice, so much so that Waymond has started wondering if divorce is the last door they’ll walk through together.

Evelyn is fried. She just needs some time to get her head straight. She won’t get it since she’s visited by a variant of Waymond who hails from the Alpha verse. There, the technology was developed allowing people to “verse jump” and spend a little time in a different life that’s also the same. Alpha Waymond tells Evelyn of the coming of Jobu Tupaki. Who is Jobu Tupaki, you might ask? Only a force of chaotic destruction, dedicated to annihilating all universes.

So what’s Evelyn supposed to do about all of that? Just team up with Alpha Waymond to stop Jobu, save reality, and repair her damaged family. The Evelyn who does so won’t be the one who’s a massive movie star, or who’s a hibachi chef, or who has hot dogs for fingers. It can only be this Evelyn. 

You might be sick to death of superhero movies. Even though they’re the reason why the movie theater industry hasn’t collapsed. Even though, like westerns, they’re a trend that will inevitably pass. At this point, you can’t tell the difference between a Batman and a Black Widow, you just wish they would go the hell away. I get it. I have an assignment for you that will help, and I dearly hope you’ll complete it. If you feel safe in a theater, go see Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Daniels have made a movie designed to blast audiences in the face with creativity. There are amazing fight sequences. Tonal shifts that lunge between childish humor, yearning romance, and kickass action. Did I mention the people with hot dogs for fingers? Perhaps best of all, Daniels hasn’t just thrown a bunch of wild stuff at us for the hell of it. Everything in Everything is deliberate and well-thought-out.

The screenplay by Daniels is thoughtfully layered, providing strong emotions and motivations for the actions of all the characters. Ever felt like you’ve made not just one bad choice but a cavalcade of bad choices? Everyone has and Daniels know that. They show us the oppressive depression of Evelyn, the fear of Waymond, and the uncertainty of Joy, all in the face of a universe that feels chaotic and capricious. The characters are never driven by the plot. Instead, their choices are the plot. The googly eyes, soulful conversations between rocks, and fanny-pack ass-beatings are there to enhance things.

The acting here is an absolute feast and the cast is given the chance to play numerous roles within the same role. Want to see Jamie Lee Curtis as a rules-obsessed auditor and also stalking her prey like Michael Myers? She’s having a blast and we’re reminded of what an absolute legend she is. Speaking of legends, this film reminds us that Michelle Yeoh is a movie star. She got to those heights by being very, very good at what she does and by knowing how to play big moments and small moments at the same time. Watch her eyes when she’s being crushed by despair or dominating as a martial arts grandmaster. Despite each variant having a different life and moving or behaving differently, the look in Yeoh’s eyes reminds us that she’s playing variants of the same core person. It’s a remarkable performance from one of the planet’s greatest performers.

We should take a moment to also talk about Ke Huy Quan. His name might sound familiar to you, and it should. He most famously appeared in The Goonies and as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Waymond is his first major role in decades, and it’s criminal that he doesn’t have a massive career as an actor. He’s playing a man watching his marriage slip away and who knows all the supportiveness and positivity won’t save it. Oh, he’s also a decisive man of action who tears apart a group of security guards like they’re paper.*** He’s also also a sleek romantic who puffs on a cigarette and ruefully laments the loss of his true love. In a film crammed with MVPs, Quan might be the MVP.

There’s a universe, perhaps the darkest one, where audiences recoil from Everything Everywhere All At Once. They’re afraid to take risks with their viewing, and as a result of their cinematic cowardice, they only receive the safest offerings. I seek a universe that’s balanced, one where the MCU can comfortably coexist alongside more daring genre fare. The only way we can live in that universe is for people like you to make a choice. Your counterpart in that dark universe decided to skip this extraordinary film. Don’t make the same mistake.


*It’s gratifying that there’s serious talk about multiverses beyond dweebs like me. Check this out.

**To the people of the world where I become President and decided to take a mental health day the very same day Russia invades Ukraine, sorry about that.

***Quan is an accomplished martial artist and he was the fight choreographer on The One, a Jet Li action movie also about multiverses.

Tim has been alarmingly enthusiastic about movies ever since childhood. He grew up in Boulder and, foolishly, left Colorado to study Communications in Washington State. Making matters worse, he moved to Connecticut after meeting his too-good-for-him wife. Drawn by the Rockies and a mild climate, he triumphantly returned and settled down back in Boulder County. He's written numerous screenplays, loves hiking, and embarrassed himself in front of Samuel L. Jackson. True story.