James Y. Lee’s review published on Letterboxd:
The cinematic advent of the multiverse — an IP-devouring narrative device popularized by the MCU with films like Spider-Man: No Way Home — is clearly becoming a phenomenon among superhero blockbusters. For one, Marvel is investing as much as humanly possible into the concept, promising to deliver films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as even wilder expansions of its multiversal boundaries, featuring perhaps dozens of cameos from non-MCU Marvel properties. Meanwhile, on the flip side of an ever-classic comic rivalry, DC is delivering The Flash next year, which has brought in Michael Keaton’s classical rendition of Batman from Tim Burton’s films as a major role in an alternate universe. There’s blood in the water, and Marvel and DC are swimming towards it at blazing mach speeds.
Yet even if there seems to be genuine heart in how the multiverse merges the old with the new, the fact that it’s a way for studios to mine nostalgia for profit remains inextricable — just look at the box office numbers for No Way Home and dare to tell me otherwise. There is an obviously lucrative mass-market appeal to incorporating older characters into popular modern properties, and no amount of in-universe, narrative justification can ever truly compensate for that. That’s not to mention, of course, that various sects of the film community have already developed a staunch cynicism for this onset development — a bitter culmination of the inevitably resulting dissatisfaction from years on end of superhero fatigue.
Enter Daniels — the moniker of filmmaking duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — who’ve provided the unlikely yet imaginatively groundbreaking antidote to such deeply rooted skepticism. The Daniels’ knack for merging juvenile, irreverent comedy with perversely moving profundity has proven itself twice before — first was Swiss Army Man, featuring Paul Dano as a man who forms a sublime friendship with an excessively flatulent corpse played by Daniel Radcliffe. Next came The Death of Dick Long from Scheinert, a Coen-brothers-esque, pitch-black dark comedy about its titular subject, merged with the gross, impertinent spirit of Adult Swim. Through their ludicrous premises and the surprisingly big-hearted execution that comes with them, the Daniels have made their mark as the independent film scene’s resident court jesters — masking insights littered with philosophical greatness behind the veneer of absurdity.
Yet with their latest film, Everything Everywhere All at Once, the Daniels have provided a luminary, moving answer to not just the sheer potential they have as filmmakers, but also the potential the multiverse has as a narrative device — a vibrant everything-bagel of kung fu cinema, speculative science fiction, Wong Kar-wai homages, and above all else… taxpayer drama. A gut-busting tearjerker manifesto of optimistic nihilism, Asian pride, and queer pride, stirred together in a melting pot of pure cinematic alchemy, Everything is the kind of kickass, seminal film that shows up every few years to rattle the formula to its core, arriving at just the right time to show everyone how the latest, greatest development in cinema is truly meant to be done.