Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka “Daniels”), the directorial duo behind 2016’s Swiss Army Man, have scored a massive critical hit and tremendous box-office (relative) smash with their new film Everything Everywhere All at Once. Marginally, it’s about a late-teen lesbian who struggles to gain her old-fashioned mother’s acceptance. Cosplay, highly choreographed kung-fu scenes, multiverse mumbo-jumbo, all of it (almost literally) thrown in.
Despite some impressive editing flourishes and other smart visual craftwork, EEAAO is a film patently for one specific audience-type. The type that feels the phrase “So random!” is high praise meaning “hilarious.” As a critic friend opined, the movie is “unapologetically silly.” He’s right, and that aspect of it left me partly disengaged 15 minutes into the Daniels throwing “everything” at the wall (and never bothering to look and see what stuck). In this context, it seems the title might even be self-deprecating. Sure, but the possibility that the filmmakers knew that their approach was, at best, haphazard doesn’t make me feel any better about the experience of watching it. Okay, I did laugh—twice, both times during those first 15 minutes.
EEAAO is sophomoric to the same degree as notoriously immature films like Fight Club (1999), The Matrix (1999), and Pig (2021), and it’s difficult to ignore the similarities among these. Pig took cues from, and ladled homage upon, Fight Club. In its copiousness of brawls and half-baked sci-fi theories, EEAAO feels deeply inspired by Fight Club and The Matrix. And it’s not only the quantities of these elements, but the depths to which they go; into the dark moral core of the Daniels’ movie. Over and over, alongside their sprinkled-in, success-poster-style “positive” platitudes, they insist that “Nothing matters.” Ostensibly because of the existence of so many parallel universes.
Pedestrian, silly, sophomoric, and offering the razor-thin plot of a television after-school special, this is the most overrated film in recent memory. If it were called Everything Everywhere All at Once… Nihilist and Zany! the title would say it all.
the international CRITIQUE rating: