Everything Everywhere All at Once is a comedy, a superhero movie, a horror movie, an action film, an immigrant story, and a family drama—all at once.
The movie follows Evelyn Yang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese American immigrant struggling to keep her family together and her laundromat business afloat. Then, her life is rocked when an alternate version of her husband (Ke Huy Quan) visits her. Without giving too much away, Evelyn must navigate an infinite number of universes to gain powers, connecting with her other “possible selves” in parallel timelines to stop the “villain” of the movie.
In one timeline, she becomes a movie star in China. In another, she becomes a chef. In another, she becomes a Kung Fu master. That may seem tame, but with infinite possibilities, some of the possible realities are bound to be weird, right?
Yes, more than you could probably imagine.
You have been warned.
A unique, subtle masterpiece
Everything is perhaps the most unique film I’ve ever watched. It’s an artful masterpiece that will leave you joyful, depressed, extremely uncomfortable, confused, and doubting the nature of reality. Everything is a movie about the multiverse, but it is actually about a mother–daughter relationship.
With countless Marvel movies and reboots rolling off of Hollywood’s conveyor belt, this movie from the indie group A24 (known for its production of eclectic horror movies) delivers a refreshing experience to the theaters. It’s clear the critics are longing for more movies like this. Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 97 percent rating from critics and 92 percent from the audience.
Rules get in the way
While the message is skillfully conveyed, it is a message that Christians fundamentally disagree with: listening to our inner “wants,” unshackled from rules or order, is what leads to true connection in relationships.
In a way, accepting meaninglessness and chaos is how to find meaning. The movie’s message is not love; it is “kindness” and acceptance. The film supports family, but only through what I would deem “affection.” One of those things is the acceptance of the daughter Joy Wang’s (Stephanie Hsu) lesbian relationship.
Everything tries to show that once someone accepts themselves and everyone else for who they are, affection blossoms, and so does family connection. This goes along with the culture’s acceptance of post-truth relativism, applied to relationships and even connections with strangers.
While moments in the movie are deeply touching and it explores several fascinating concepts, the world’s message comes through in a loud voice.
Sexual themes and humorous sexual references are in the movie (particularly two or three times in reference to “kinks.”) There are moments of violence and extended action scenes. Explicit language is scattered throughout. There is also the strangeness factor that can’t be overlooked in cautioning Christians on whether to watch it.
It is rated R for some violence, sexual material, and language.
Additionally, one of the central conflicts is the family’s hesitancy to accept the daughter’s girlfriend. It’s not some kind of shallow Hollywood display of “wokeness” but is depicted as a genuine, down-to-earth relationship.
What is the “multiverse?”
The multiverse theory states that there are an infinite, or nearly infinite, number of universes. The theories vary in how much is variable: Do the laws of nature vary between universes or not? Would these universes collide in space?
The multiverse theory is being displayed more and more in popular culture, signaling its acceptance by the general populace (or at least, the possibility of it). The next installment of Dr. Strange centers around the multiverse. The main character fights against an evil version of himself from another universe.
But, philosophically associated with this theory is that there is no fundamental order to reality. Many scientists bring this up to deny the existence of God. There is an argument for God’s existence saying that the universe is fine-tuned for life and therefore suggests that it requires a “fine-tuner.” However, if there were infinite universes, it would show that life would exist in a countless number of them. We are simply one of those countless universes.
While this movie doesn’t delve into the science behind this theory, it does wrestle deeply with the idea that nothing truly matters. If there are infinite realities, this movie wrestles with an implication: we are of infinite insignificance.
If you come away from this movie afraid for your sanity, don’t worry. There isn’t any empirical evidence that multiverses exist—and there probably won’t be. Any arguments for or against them will be philosophical (cosmological), not scientific. This is because no matter how powerful, a telescope simply can’t move beyond the borders of our own universe.
Christians must step up to the plate
Something that struck me after this movie was that although the message is contrary to Christian values, their form of delivery was genuinely creative, nearly flawless in execution, and wildly entertaining. If Christians want to shine in this modern culture, we must glorify God with our execution of the arts.
This will require Christians to switch their thinking from “using” art to deliver a message to creating with subtle reflection and honest artistic integrity. To delve deeper into this subject, read my review of Makoto Fujimura’s Art and Faith. Matching the culture in the arts will require genuine creativity and honest reflection.
The Chosen is an example of a series that strives for excellence in the representation of Jesus, as he likely lived.
If Christians want to truly create, we have to unlearn the lack of subtlety in Christian movies that forgo depth for an explicit message. This is not a call for Christians to copy Hollywood. Rather, we should follow in the footsteps of creative films that are actually, genuinely good.
Like Everything Everywhere All at Once.