Warning: the following contains spoilers
If you haven’t seen the incomparable absurdist film Everything Everywhere All At Once, it is high time you did. Made by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert–a filmmaking duo collectively known as Daniels–the new action-sci-fi-dramedy is out of this world. In the age of reboots, the film comes as a fresh breath of air. Buckle up for the surreal journey of the Wang family who, in this world, run a laundromat. The family consists of husband and wife Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), and their daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu).
In no particular order, I have gathered eleven of my favorite quotes from the film to help me review why I love it so much. Grab your googly eyes: Yeoh describes the film as something she has (like me) “waited a long time for.”
- “I want to lie here.” (Evelyn Wang)
- Faced with the new knowledge that she exists within a multiverse, Alpha Waymond asks Evelyn to make a choice: will she help save the verses? No. Like many of us, she would much rather lay here–that is until Waymond grabs her by the elbow and the adventure continues. This is an early moment where Evelyn is told she can access her “other” selves whose skills and memories she can use to help combat the evil antagonist, Jobu Tupakki. In a Marvel-teeming world, it is refreshing to see a character react so honestly to the idea of multiverses. No Benedict Cumberbatch magic here.
- “So, even though you have broken my heart yet again, I wanted to say… in another life, I would have really liked… just doing laundry and taxes with you.” (Waymond Wang)
- Returning from an acting hiatus of over two decades,” Quan wins us over with just one fanny pack. Said by a multiverse Waymond, this quote is said to the celebrity version of Evelyn. This scene is inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, glowing with hazy city flights and romantic chemistry. In this world, Waymond dresses sharp and exudes confidence. Quan’s ability to play multiple versions of Waymond is phenomenal and never turns gimmicky.
- “‘Right’ is a small box invented by people who are afraid.” (Jobu Tupaki)
- Jobu Tupaki explains the shared pain between Evelyn and her in a monologue that makes you reconsider how you’ve been living your life.
- “You know that movie, Raccaccoonie” (Evelyn Wang)
- Evelyn learning how to multiverse jump introduces many strange and hilarious worlds to us: hot dog fingers, teppanyaki, cardboard cut spinner, martial arts master, etc. Oftentimes, I leave films feeling that you could shave off thirty minutes and it’d be fine. Yet all the multiverses really grabbed my attention. Indeed, Evelyn fighting her way out of the IRS building (and other action sequences) truly entertained me.
- “I got bored one day, then I put everything in a bagel… everything. All my hopes and dreams, my old report cards, every breed of dog, every personal ad on Craigslist… sesame… poppy seed… salt, and it collapsed in on itself. ‘Cause you see, when you really put everything on a bagel, it becomes this… the truth.” (Jobu Tupaki)
- First, the film camera-like montage that accompanies this quote amplifies the moving and humorous scene. Hair styled as a bagel, Jobu Tupaki reveals the dangerous thing Evelyn must stop. It adds levity to an extremely dark portion of the film. The alleged antagonist of the movie introduces us to the everything bagel at the center of the film, never directly revealing what the bagel symbolizes. Many folks seem to read the complex carb as nihilism or perhaps a statement on mental health.
- “Just be a rock.” (Joy Wang/Jobu Tupaki)
- Each time I have seen the film, the silent conversation between two rocks moves me to tears. It is a heart-wrenching moment to realize that this mother-daughter ( at odds with each other) shares a lot of loneliness and pain. Both struggle to belong. It’s a tender moment where one beseeches the other to just be.
- “The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.” (Waymond Wang)
- One of my pet peeves in writing is how people will write heterosexual couples in a gendered good cop, bad cop way. That is to say, in a heterosexual relationship the dad is fun and the woman is a wet blanket. This ultimately flattens characters. At the start of the film, I was anxious EEAAO would fall into this trope. However, thankfully it complicates this stereotype through thoughtful, witty writing. Like most of the film, Waymond and Evelyn’s dynamic surprised me in beautiful ways.
- “Everything sucked into a bagel.” (Jobu Tupaki)
- Jobu-Joy realness. I have such a big crush on Jobu/Joy because she two navigates a liminal bicultural life as a queer daughter of immigrants trying to live authentically. The first conversation in the film (between her parents) is in full-on Chinglish, the language of my heart. It is so rare to see a protagonist grow up with the same vernacular as I have. The script aptly juggles four languages: Mandarin, English, Chinglish, and Cantonese.
- “Learning to fight like you.” (Evelyn Wang)
- Realizing her husband, who has the personality of a gummy bear, may be on to something with his goofy softness, Evelyn tries to fight like him. She realizes it is OK to bench her aggression and rumination sometimes. In a world of chaos, this is solid advice for everyone.
- “And for some reason when I’m with you, it just hurts the both of us. So let’s just go our separate ways, ok? Just let me go!” (Joy Wang)
- A quote from the final exchange between Evelyn and her daughter, Joy and her mother speak vulnerably with no multiverse jumping. They stand in a parking lot with the awareness that there is no quick fix to their relationship, only the choice to keep it intact and love one another. It is wise to note that the pair clash not because of difference–more so because of how alike in stubbornness they are.
- “Then I will cherish these few specks of time.” (Evelyn Wang)
- From the same moment as the previous point, this monologue makes me cry just reading the raw exchange. I won’t say too much more. Let’s just say the ending wraps up the movie in an organic way that likely leaves you smitten with all the characters, all at once.
My favorite films are challengers; they make me reconsider and reconstruct what I already know. The Daniels film–I am positive–will likely make you feel the same. Dare I say, googly-eyed? You can see Everything, Everywhere All At Once in theaters now. The zany film is also streaming on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Vudu, Apple TV, and Google Play Movies & TV.