Don’t Hate the “We Are Family” Vibes
Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
After the film, I overheard a conversation where some wonderful filmgoers said the film ended way too happy. I believe they said, it kind of made them feel a bit like the song We are Family. It really made me think that they missed the entirety of the film and what the film was about and that they really just wanted to see a film where people punched each other for 2 hours before a 5-minute wrap-up at the end. Maybe they should’ve watched the other Multiverse movie playing next door. The film starts with the Wangs in the IRS with wonderful multiverse weirdness. The Wang family that we meet is made up of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), her husband Waymond (Ke Hung Quan), her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) as well as Evelyn’s father, Gong Gong (James Hong).
The Wangs are getting ready to do their taxes while simultaneously setting up a party for the Chinese New Year. As they head to the IRS, weirdness ensues and Waymond from another universe enters Evelyn’s universe. They call this Waymond, Alpha Waymond, as he is from the Alpha-verse, the first universe to figure out that there are multiverses and to travel to multiple universes. He tells Evelyn about the grave danger posed by the great evil known as Jobu Tupaki. All the while, Evelyn’s own Waymond is trying to hand her divorce papers. As Evelyn is doing her taxes, she has a choice to make: either to engage in the many universes she is now aware of or to stay in her universe and do her taxes. Intrigued, she follows Alpha Waymond’s steps to engage in the multiverse, And Away we go.
From there, the film takes many turns, moving from its starting point as a family drama to a martial arts film, to a sci-fi film, to complete absurdity, at one point. I mean there’s a universe where everyone’s fingers are hotdogs and it’s extremely funny, far funnier than it maybe has any right to be. There are also many homages to other great films along the way such as a clear homage to Wong Kar Wei’s In the Mood for Love. While also at once being a story about Asian-American identity and about immigrants and about immigrant parents, a story beat that I can definitely understand.
We often go to the movies nowadays and see simple stories told with the backdrop of a lot of fighting or also fighting actions films drastically overcomplicated by ridiculously convoluted plots, but Everything Everywhere All at Once, the film has three chapters, by the way, tells a wonderful family drama while taking many brilliant twists and turns to tell a tale about love and happiness in a world bogged down by information and technology. The film’s entire point is to tell us that regardless of our hardships, we have to search for happiness.
So while that may be a little “We Are Family” vibes, I still find it great to watch a movie that makes you genuinely happy while also making you think of many scientific and philosophical implications of what an existing multiverse could be. While also not making multiverse theory boring and based solely on escapism. The film while it does tackle ideas of existentialism and nihilism looks at it differently. The Daniels themselves said in a recent podcast from the Financial Times that if everything is meaningless, we should all just be kind to each other.
Sometimes, maybe we should enjoy doing taxes, even though it may be boring. Maybe every now and then we need a film to hug us and throw a number of weird crazy ideas around it to be kinda “We Are Family”.