It took me 30 minutes to find the exact way to describe the amazing insanity I have been through in those 141 minutes. So I am going to try and there must be more than a zillion interpretations to this story, so don’t come at me if mine doesn’t sit with yours. Ever thought of how life would be in an alternate reality? What if there are more of us living the best/worst of us? Even interesting, what if we could teleport? Would that make us happy or it is now and the love we have with us right here enough to not delve into the multiverse?
Writer-director duo Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert take all these questions in their second film and make a product so absurd that it feels brainless but ends up being the smartest. But the journey to prove smartness is so crazy that smart isn’t the word that pops up in your mind until the end. In their first film where farting was a legitimate superpower (Swiss Army Man, starring Paul Dano & Daniel Radcliffe), the filmmakers teased the concept of Everything Everywhere All At Once, and in their second they take it ahead.
Of course, there is a multiverse, and traveling through it. Channels and gates to travel through the multiverse, dents and cracks created and the outcome of the cracks caused and bizarre ways to mend them. But at the heart of it, Dan and Daniel both shape a story about bonds and love and adulation. In Evelyn, they shape a woman who not just belongs to an oppressed immigrated community amid the white folks, but has also oppressed her inner self that wants to fly. She is woman who wants the best for her family, but is also conservative about her daughter being gay. She has tried her hands at being a writer, teacher, singer and many things but possibly failed.
So when such a woman who also has a husband who is over-optimistic with the scarcity-prone life, is given a chance to live herself from the alternate universes, what does she learn? The script that finds solace is chaos and absurdity, never really deviates from its core even when it looks like it does. It is about Evelyn understanding that nowhere in this gigantic space is a version of her living without a problem. The writing even pitches her against her own daughter and further extends to the fact about how it is love that conquers even the multiverse.
There is a universe where people have hotdogs as fingers, or one where people are legit dolls, or crayon sketches. There is even one where they are rocks and they talk to each other. Dan and Daniel seem to have gone into the most bizarre corners of their heart and mind to tell the simplest of the tale in the most complex of the manner without make it a circus.
There are several Easter eggs and homages throughout the film. The funniest and the cutest is to Ratatouille. Decode some more for yourself and let me know in the comments. Make sure you listen to the music carefully too. Also, won’t ignore, the climax action sequence feels a bit stretched.