“Everything Everywhere All at Once” did not live up to its potential


Courtesy of A24

A medley of comedy, sci-fi and family drama, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” leads its own legacy as a movie about a vast multiverse.

Shivangi Nanda, Copy Editor

The Case Western Reserve University Film Society showings at Strosacker Auditorium have become a time-honored tradition for CWRU students interested in a more relaxed Friday or Saturday night. In the spirit of a new school year, last Friday, Sept. 9, students were offered a free showing of the blockbuster film “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” By 7 p.m. that night, the lecture hall was converted into a makeshift movie theater equipped with a large projection screen, surround system audio and a concession stand. Wide-eyed first-years and veteran CWRU movie-watchers packed the lower and balcony levels, excited to have this welcome break from classes.

It’s no secret that the Film Society does an incredible job setting the theater mood, but the movie itself is what we are here for. Unfortunately, despite glowing reviews from popular critics, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was not exactly what it set out to be. 

The movie revolves around the fantastical adventure of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant faced with the unimaginable challenge of protecting the multiverse by battling her own daughter. In doing so, a domesticated Evelyn is taught to harness hidden powers by jumping into alternate dimensions and taking on the skills of other multiversal versions of herself. On its surface, the sci-fi elements display a wild and often humorous rendition of what we believe to be the multiverse, going from the believable to the absolutely absurd. But deep down, the movie captures the raw experience of being a Chinese immigrant navigating the newness of American culture, traditions and processes. Showcasing relatable family arguments and identity struggles, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” touches the audience through its accurately flawed characters and troubled family dynamics. This level of complexity was bolstered by performances by Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu and others who portrayed each character with such attention to body language and facial expressions that you couldn’t help but keep watching.

In hindsight, my only complaints are with the pacing of the plot and the predictable ending that overshadowed any initial storytelling. While directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert were successful in engaging audiences with quip humor, certain scenes felt drawn out and made watching a chore. For instance, battle scenes in the IRS office became routine and even “verse jumping” lost its charm. In addition, the ending, like many movies about family relationships, hinged on the importance of the abstract concepts of love and acceptance. Although this message is often successful in cookie-cutter Disney films, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” sets itself up as a unique experience that deserves a much better finish. In my opinion, the ending dulled the power of this sci-fi drama crossover, drawing all attention to the slice-of-life plot line instead.

So, should you watch “Everything Everywhere All at Once”? Well, that really comes down to personal preference. However, I will say that while the movie was not exactly my cup of tea, the experience itself was something memorable. Getting to enjoy concessions, the company of friends and the relaxation of a movie theater setting, I was still able to bring some fun to my weekend. Thus, regardless of movie quality, I implore all CWRU students to give Film Society productions a chance. Take part in this campus tradition and experience the magic of movies from the comfort of our very own Strosacker Auditorium.