Genre is often arbitrary, something that’s used to unnecessarily categorize movies or books on Netflix or iTunes, seemingly because we haven’t yet thought of a better system for recommending things we like. However, there is a method to the madness. Essentially, genre means conventions, and we viewers have learned what to expect when we’re told what kind of movie we’re about to see. Sure, it can be nice to see familiar conventions played out over and over again, but perhaps the genre film is at its best when it overturns its own conventions to challenge tradition, or, in some special cases, to combines with something else to do something approximately. almost perfect.
Everything everywhere all at once is the latest from the powerful distribution company A24. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Stewart (known collectively as “Daniels”), the film features typical laundromat owner Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) as she struggles with financial maintenance and the cohesion of his family. It’s not until Evelyn faces a tax audit that things start to get interesting. Evelyn is introduced to the multiverse, where she must channel different versions of herself in order to defeat an agent of chaos.
It’s also one of the most visually dynamic and versatile movies in recent memory. As Evelyn transcends universes, the viewer is treated to different visual styles. A segment recalls that of Wong Kar Wai love mood. Another recalls Yeoh’s previous work in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Some settings are goofy; others are sparse and elegant. It’s clear that every frame in the film has been carefully crafted and well thought out, coming together and creating something that can be watched over and over again.
The performances in the film are not to be missed. Yeoh carries the film as the main character. His charm, charisma, and varied acting styles, depending on the script, are lovely. Even so, the supporting cast shines just as brightly. Jamie Lee Curtis takes on an important role that shows off her expert comedic timing, and Ke Huy Quan’s Waymond compliments Yeoh’s Evelyn perfectly. Perhaps the most enchanting surprise, however, is Stephanie Hsu, as Joy, Evelyn’s daughter. Hsu holds firm with the much more seasoned Yeoh. Being asked to play variations of the same or similar characters is no small feat, even for a seasoned actor, and Hsu does it superbly.
A great cast and cool features are enough to make a bad movie fun to watch, but Everything everywhere all at once is far from being a bad movie. The fact that the movie is an action movie won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen the trailer or is familiar with Yeoh’s work. Along with plenty of supporting cast, she aptly demonstrates her martial arts skills in many extremely enjoyable fight sequences. However, the film may actually be surprising as it takes on many different genres and forms throughout its two hour and twelve minute runtime.
It’s also a comedy and one of the funniest movies to hit theaters last year. The dialogue is crisp and witty and sure to have the audience rolling in their seats. The real strength is that the comedy blends in with the action instead of overshadowing it, allowing the film to be both revered and enjoyable. What else, Everything everywhere all at once is a family film with a lot of heart. As it will certainly make you laugh, it might make you cry. In a balance extremely rare these days, the film successfully combines three genres to create something about a family that can be enjoyed by a family while maintaining a dedication to craftsmanship in all three areas.
It’s pretty remarkable to see a singular film do it all in any scenario, but Everything everywhere all at once does it all with grace and style. When it comes to categorization, the viewer may have issues. But, whatever label the Blu-ray collector or movie director decides to put on top, the film does a good job. It can be any genre you want. After all, it’s everything, everywhere, all at once.