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It Feels Good to Be Proven Wrong: A Review of Everything Everywhere All At Once

Ethan Gough is an independent filmmaker and critic currently based in Grand Rapids, MI. His favorite movie will always be Jaws.


It Feels Good To Be Proven Wrong: A Review of Everything Everywhere All At Once

It's a struggle to know where to begin with this movie. How does one write about something that is unlike anything they’ve seen before? Perhaps all they can do is try and describe their experience. Maybe listing the names of the cast members and explaining the plot isn’t the right approach when reviewing this kind of film. How can you utilize such a conventional formula when the film you're reviewing is anything but conventional? The right thing to do is try to express what it was like for me to sit in a theater, look at the images on the screen, hear the dialogue being spoken, and know instinctively that the movie I was watching was destined to be a classic! To do that I'll have to open with this honest statement.

I didn’t expect a lot from Everything Everywhere All At Once. The trailer, though relatively good when judged by itself (and masterful when compared to most others) didn’t do anything for me when I first saw it. I had more anticipation for films like The Northman by Roger Eggers, and Licorice Pizza by Paul Thomas Anderson. This random science-fiction comedy film by the guys who gave us the mostly forgotten Swiss Army Man seemed like a creative experiment that I would happily admire from afar. However, it didn’t seem like some kind of subversive masterpiece that I would want to fully indulge in. I held this view comfortably for months until finally the movie was released and, Suddenly, the film that I had been dismissive of was immediately hit by a wave of critical acclaim and buzz from every film reviewing site on the web. This grabbed my attention, and now I had no choice but to see this movie.

I bought my ticket for a 5:30 pm Sunday showing at an AMC. My younger brother bought his own ticket and accompanied me. We both got to our seats having no clue what to expect. It was that wonderful few moments before previews begin where the possibilities are endless and the movie you’re about to experience for the first time can be anything. After a few moments of waiting the lights went down and the trailers began; I don’t remember a single one. The trailers came and went and finally, the movie began. The two hours that followed were pure cinematic perfection!

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a movie by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. They made one movie before this called Swiss Army Man, and various music videos (including Turn Down For What for DJ Snake and Lil John). I haven't seen Swiss Army Man, and I rarely pay attention to music video credits, but this movie alone has convinced me that these two are the most creative film duo working today. I almost get envious thinking about how creative their minds must be to write and execute a movie like this. What's even more impressive is their confidence. This movie doesn’t waste any time justifying or apologizing for what it is. The jokes range from clever to totally juvenile, but the presentation and creative vision of the movie never faltered.

The casting choices made for this movie are some of the best I've seen in all of my hours and hours of movie watching. Ke Huy Guan, who makes his first noteworthy film appearance in over twenty years, ends up being the heart of the entire movie, and he is more than talented enough to hold all that on his shoulders. His performance is so warm and sweet that it’s (much like everything else in the movie) totally overwhelming. I was smiling so much that I thought my face might split into two pieces.

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I carried a lot of preconceived notions with me when I walked into the theatre to watch this movie. I was overwhelmed with the fear that this was just going to be another boring twist on the “Ground Hog Day” kind of plot. My assumptions and fears couldn’t have been more misplaced. Everything Everywhere All At Once isn’t just a great movie. It is a movie that film nerds like me will be analyzing and referencing for decades to come. It will undoubtedly entertain many, and even has the chance of inspiring some. If there’s a parallel universe where this movie doesn’t exist, we should all feel very lucky to be where we are.

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