Review – Curiosier And Curiosier (“Everything Everywhere All At Once”)

The multiverse is hot right now, with movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and the upcoming, Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and SpiderMan: Across the Spider-Verse. So here’s a non-MCU movie to mess with your mind in the meantime.

Take The Matrix, The One, Slaughterhouse-Five, TV’s Quantum Leap, some Monty Python, and blend them all together and you the ultra weird and fascinating strangeness that is this movie. Originally, back in 2018, Jackie Chan was to play the title character, but the directors decided to change it to Michelle Yeoh and make her Evelyn Wang, a harried businesswoman who is financially struggling along with her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) at their laundromat. This particular day is super-stressful as Evelyn is not only being audited by the IRS, but her hubby is trying to give divorce papers to her!

Plus, there’s Evelyn’s elderly father, Gong Gong (James Hong) who’s a pain AND Evelyn’s daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), who has been trying to get her mother to accept her girlfriend, Becky (Tallie Medel). Geez, what else could go wrong? In a totally bizarre and unexpected turn of events, while Evelyn is being audited by a terse IRS accountant, Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis, looking really frumpy) in, of all places, Simi Valley (!!!), something straight of Quantum Leap happens! Waymond becomes an alternate Waymond from a different multiverse where, like the MCU’s branch lines of the TVA or the Matrix, you can access versions of yourself (“verse-jump”) to and from other multiverses by doing (or acting out) really strange things.

She learns, much to her amazement, that she is from the Alpha Universe, and apart from her verse-jumping skills, there’s a big problem: the multiverse is being threatened by the all-powerful Jobu Tupaki, a creature who now inhabits Joy’s body and can manipulate time & space at will. Jobu/Joy has also created an “everything bagel” that can potentially destroy the multiverse. Alternate Waymond believes that Evelyn, who is the greatest failure of all the Evelyns of all the universes, is being hunted by Jobu because of her untapped potential. But in trying to unleash her power, Evelyn has to give in to her personal demons, feelings for her husband, daughter, and her own insecurities.

At 139 minutes this movie is confusing, awesome, eye-popping, mind-bending, complex, hilarious, and about 20 minutes too long. It’s as if writer/director Terry Gilliam had returned to mess with our minds again, but no, this film was written & directed by Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, who are known for their equally outrageous movie, Swiss Army Man. To try and tell you all about this acid trip of a movie would take all night. It’s surreal like a Gilliam’s Brazil, has enough martial arts for any Jackie Chan fan, has some scenes of wild LOL humor like a Monty Python Flying Circus skit, and is a corker of a sci-fi film that challenges your imagination. Okay, it goes on a little too long for its own good, but it’s madly unpredictable and joyously awesome.

And let’s just say that Michelle Yeoh is simply remarkable. Able to jump from a scared & confused mother to a martial arts badass is a tour-de-force for this actress. And enough cannot be said about the returning long-lost prodigal son to the screen, Ke Huy Quan, who has been practically absent since his memorable gigs in Goonies and Indiana Jones/Temple of Doom. He’s matured into a fine, strong actor, but still has that child-like charm we all remember. It’s SO good to see him again! Stephanie Hsu is great as both the estranged daughter and the evil multiverse master, and James Wong never disappoints whether he’s acting or giving a voice-over role.

For sheer surprise and quite the departure, there’s Jamie Lee Curtis, wearing a ridiculous wig, a fat suit, and some hideous make-up, and looking like she’s having a ball in what amounts to be a twisted version of an IRS agent gone nuts. Yeah, we’ve all wondered about it, right? And for some quick, LOL moments, check out Jenny Slate as Big Nose (yes, that’s her name in the movie!). The fighting scene with her against Evelyn using her dog is worth the price of admission alone. One thing is for sure, this is a movie that will stay with you long after you’ve left the theater. Hmmm. . .  I think I’ll have a bagel. 

**Now showing only in theaters    

The One (2001)

Combining The Matrix with Time Cop and Highlander, this forgettable sci-fi actioner stars Jet Li as an ex-officer that used to police the universes’ multiverse. It also stars a young Jason Statham before he got really noticed in The Transporter and his career exploded. 

Gabriel Yulaw (Li) realizes that, if you kill yourself in another dimension or multiverse (and apparently there are about 124 of them), you absorb their energy & strength. So, he illegally travels through inter-dimensional wormholes, hunting down and wiping out variations of himself and becoming superhuman in the process. After being captured by multiverse agents Rodecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Statham), Yulaw is sentenced to life in a penal colony in the Hades universe. BUT he escapes to the last universe where his final self (he already killed 123 other Gabriel’s), and finds Gabriel Law (Li again), who’s a respected L.A. Sheriff.

Yulaw, who has Matrix-like speed, agility, strength, and ‘bullet-time’ moves, is more than a match for the local cops as he goes gunning for Law, but misses his target this time around. Hot on his trail, however, are Rodecker & Funsch, quite possibly the worst shots in the known universe. They make Stormtroopers look like Annie Oakley! Making good on his escape (again), Yulaw tracks Law down to a local hospital where he plans to do a little switcheroo with Law, but Law’s confused wife, T.K. (Carla Gugino), gets in the way.

From there on it’s nothing but Yulaw tracking down Law (while killing anybody that gets in his way) and Funsch giving loads of exposition to Law about multiverses, why Law is so suddenly strong, and how he’s got to remain alive or else the universe may implode or something dumb like that. Chase after chase after chase ensues until the inevitable showdown between Yulaw and Law, who go at it mano-a-mano with a very long martial arts fight. The ending is just plain stupid and schmaltzy.

Written by director James Wong (AHS and the X-Files TV series) and Glen Morgan (Final Destination), this movie tanked at the box office and for good reason. Originally meant for Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Jet Li was not exactly a bankable name here in the U.S. Oh, sure, the man can kick-ass better than most (Fearless is his best), but unlike Jackie Chan, acting is not his strong suit. Then there was that boring, one-note script that had a single idea and ran it to death. It’s one very long chase movie that leaves you waiting (begging) for something to happen. *snore*.

At least you get to see some decent martial arts by Li who, you gotta admit, is pretty damn good, even if he resorts to ‘wire work’ (being suspended by wires to make him fly or defy gravity). The ending fight is unique as Yulaw & Law (both Li) adopt different styles of martial arts against each other.

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