It is not a common occurrence that a film is strong enough to not just convey a meaning but also to wholeheartedly make its audience feel it. Comedy-drama film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, achieves this with perfection as it truly makes a line of connection with its viewers. The plot presents a Chinese-American woman who finds her world falling apart with her growing age—her laundry business is being investigated for tax evasion, she is having to look after her elderly father, her husband is filing for a divorce, and most importantly, her daughter is growing more distant from her. She then tries to find a balance between all of this and go on with her life; nothing too uncommon for a movie plot, and yet, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” becomes a fantastic watching experience by the end, as it brings on an absolute multiverse of madness.
‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Plot Summary
Evelyn Wang is a woman in her fifties, struggling to run a busy laundromat business with her always cheerful but meek husband, Waymond. She has other problems on her plate, too: her aged father has been sent to stay with them in their already cramped-up apartment from his old-age center in China, and her daughter Joy has also been trying to get her to accept her girlfriend, Becky. Like most Asian mothers, Evelyn rushes through her chores, and finds problems with Joy’s lifestyle, which includes tattoos and a white non-Asian partner, that too, a woman, and then also looks to the needs of her demanding father, whom the family lovingly calls Gong Gong. On the day of the Chinese New Year, Evelyn and Waymond are about to go to the IRS office, as their business is being investigated for tax evasion, and Joy is supposed to accompany them as a translator. Despite having spent most of their lives in America, neither Evelyn nor Waymond perfectly understand English, as they were not as exposed to other cultures as Joy has been, who herself can hardly speak Chinese. Joy arrives with Becky that morning, much to her mother’s disappointment, and Evelyn suggests that the two stay back alone and that she take Gong Gong along with her to the IRS office. Over some time, Joy tries to explain herself and the situation to her mother multiple times, but Evelyn remains adamant about her decision. As Joy tearfully drives away in her car with Becky, Evelyn goes over to the revenue office with Waymond and her father.
As the three take the elevator inside the building, something extremely strange happens—Waymond acts very weird, as if a different personality has taken over him, and he fits two small devices on Evelyn’s ears and runs some program on a smartphone. Evelyn amusedly looks on as her entire life flashes in front of her eyes—her father’s disappointment when she was born; his stern attitude towards her in childhood; her meeting Waymond and deciding to leave China with him, which caused her parents to abandon any contact with her; their subsequent setting up of the laundromat; Joy’s birth; the sad distance between her and her daughter; and everything else leading up to this moment. In addition, Waymond also leaves her with a note of specific instructions for her to follow when in the IRS meeting. During the meeting with IRS agent Deirdre, Evelyn soon loses track of whatever the elderly woman is saying, and she follows all the instructions to magically get herself warped to inside a cramped janitor’s room along with the different Waymond.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Who Is Alpha Waymond? What Is Suddenly Going On In Evelyn’s Life?
The man now explains that every life choice she made in her past had created numerous other alternate realities, and he hails from one such reality called Alphaverse, the first universe that successfully established connections with the other universes. Alpha Waymond (as he calls himself) further explains that Evelyn must help him save the multiverse as a dangerous entity threatens its existence. Before Evelyn can understand any of it, Alpha Waymond, or a mere copy of him as he claims, is killed by an evil Deirdre, and Evelyn smacks back to her original reality. While the revenue officer gives the family some more time to prepare their tax forms better, Evelyn is freaked out by Deirdre’s strange movements, and she chooses to attack her like Alpha Waymond had told her to do. This immediately creates some more possible universes and causes massive problems for them, as Alpha Waymond has to return to help her out. Amidst the chaos, Evelyn also finds out that her husband is filing for divorce as he feels their marriage has no love left in it. Fighting off security personnel with strange measures, the man from Alphaverse explains that people of his universe, led by the late Alpha Evelyn, had invented a method to “verse-jump,” allowing them to access skills and memories of themselves from the other parallel universes, and he exclaims that she too has to learn in order to protect themselves from the evil Deirdre. Evelyn somehow manages to do it, as it involves doing strange random things like chewing gum already chewed by someone else, getting oneself paper-cuts, or in Evelyn’s first case, professing love to Deirdre, to find one’s “jumping pad,” which then allows them to verse-jump. Evelyn ultimately verse-jumps, taking on the skills of herself from a different reality in which she had not left China with Waymond, and had instead been taught kung fu by a master, and with these skills, she defeats evil Deirdre.
Alpha Waymond reveals that the Alphaverse is threatened by an evil entity named Jobu Tupaki, who can easily traverse all across the multiverse without as much effort as required by the others, and she is powerful and sinister enough to destroy the entire multiverse. As Evelyn tries to escape the IRS building with her husband from an alternate reality, she has flashes of memory from the universe she earlier used, in which she became a kung fu specialist, which earned her successful roles in the world of cinema, and she became a very celebrated actress in China. In this reality, she soon meets Waymond at a film’s premiere, and the man has become a rich businessman in America since he left China and Evelyn so many years back. Back in her actual reality, Evelyn is handcuffed by police, and then, to her surprise, Joy comes to the IRS building. The daughter is dressed in flashy clothes, and she starts beating up the police, and Evelyn now finds out the scary truth: that Jobu Tupaki, who threatens the existence of the multiverse, is nobody but her own daughter. The two have a conversation in which the evil daughter explains that she has created a dark portal like an everything bagel, with which she intends to destroy everything. Evelyn tries verse-jumping to save herself, but she unknowingly takes on skills from a universe in which all human beings have hot dogs in their hands instead of fingers, and she is rendered helpless. However, just then, a speeding wheelchair crashes into Jobu Tupaki, and an Alpha Gong Gong makes an entry. The old man gathers Evelyn, Waymond, and Joy in a room. The latter two do not remember how they got into such a scenario and are quite clueless about themselves. Alpha Gong Gong asks Evelyn to kill Joy, for she is Jobu Tupaki across all universes, but the mother denies to do so, and instead fights with the old man and his team of verse-jumpers. Evelyn has now decided that instead of using her powers to fight against Jobu Tupaki, she will use them to become like her and deal with her that way. As the fights go on, though, she uses help from her multiple realities, which somehow messes her up, and she ultimately throws up and falls to the ground, seemingly dead.
How Can Evelyn Stop Her Evil Daughter Jobu Tupaki?
Evelyn now explores more of her previously visited universes and some more as well. As a celebrated film actress, she follows businessman Waymond to a dark alley behind the theater, where she has a long conversation with him. Evelyn tries to pursue the man, but he softly turns her down, reminding her that she had once decided not to give their love a chance because she was unwilling to live a life of doing laundry and paying taxes with him. Before leaving, he does confess, though, that in some other universe where it might be possible, he would have loved to just run a laundry and pay taxes with Evelyn. She then sees herself in the role of a chef in a Chinese restaurant, in which her colleague is actually controlled by a raccoon inside his hat, just like in the film “Ratatouille.” Evelyn reveals this in front of all their customers one day, which makes the raccoon get taken away by the authorities, much to the grief of her colleague, who now claims to be left with no skill. Evelyn then also flashes back to the universe with hot-dog fingers, and realizes that in it, she is heavily pursued by Deirdre romantically, and although she wards her off initially, she does find more acceptance of the idea gradually. The woman then also comes back to a reality that looks exactly like the one on the day of the Chinese New Year, where her daughter comes with Becky, but this time Joy soon reveals herself as Jobu Tupaki. The two travel across multiple universes as they have a fistfight, and go through scenarios where they are opposing kung fu fighters, a police officer and prisoner in a jail, mere crayon drawings on a piece of paper, and two paper dolls hung as pinatas at a birthday party. The daughter then takes her mother to the universe with the everything bagel, and now she reveals that the existence of the powerful, all-consuming bagel is not to destroy the world but to destroy her own self, as Joy is convinced that nothing means anything in her life, and the lack of love and support that she feels from her mother has taken her deep into depression and nihilism.
In their original reality, Deirdre calls Evelyn to ask her why she has not yet submitted her tax forms, and the woman just arrogantly refuses the tax officer. She has indeed started to believe what her daughter has just revealed to her, and she now feels ready to step into the dark bagel along with Jobu Tupaki. In the universe where she seemed to have died inside the IRS building, Evelyn now wakes back to life, to the surprise of both Alpha Waymond and Alpha Gong Gong. Believing in that same desperate nihilism, Evelyn prepares herself for a violent fight with Alpha Gong Gong and his team of verse-jumpers who want Jobu Tupaki to jump into the void of the bagel and destroy herself. In the original reality, Deirdre arrives with police to shut down the laundromat, and Evelyn chooses to get violent here too, and takes up a baseball bat and starts breaking glass windows. But everything suddenly changes when Waymond reaches out to Evelyn in the IRS building universe. He urges everyone to stop fighting, and tries to calm Evelyn down by expressing that he too feels confused and frustrated by whatever goes on in his life, but he never chooses violence or clashes as a solution because he knows they can never be any solution. This turns Evelyn’s corrupting mind around, and she suddenly seems to solve all the problems in all the universes—she accepts businessman Waymond’s decision to not get back together with her, she helps her chef colleague to go in search of his beloved raccoon, and she finally accepts the advances of hot-dog-fingered Deirdre, realizing that making the woman feel loved is the only way to stop the violence. Evelyn then solves the problems of her verse-jumping assailants one after the other, and finally uses her powers to help people.
At the end of this long queue of assailants, though, is Joy herself, in the form of Jobu Tupaki, who prepares to destroy herself by stepping into the bagel, which she has now teleported into the IRS building. Evelyn starts walking toward her daughter but is stopped by Alpha Gong Gong, who tries to convince her that his granddaughter is evil and should be allowed to destroy herself. She now knows that the time for a final confrontation with her father has arrived, and in her original universe, Evelyn tells Gong Gong that it does not matter to her anymore if her father is proud of her or not, for she has now learned to accept and love herself. She admits that she did not want Joy to grow up to be as confused a woman as she is, but Joy has indeed grown up to be someone equally confused and messed up but beautifully so. Finally, she introduces Becky to her father as Joy’s girlfriend, and the old man now seems to grow accepting of it. Joy realizes what is going on, and she runs out of the laundromat crying and asking her mother to stop being so confusing. The daughter understandably feels overwhelmed by such a sudden public acceptance by her mother, and instead of reconciling, asks her mother to just get away from her and her life and let her be by herself. As a sign of utmost realization, Evelyn accepts to do so, and in the IRS office universe, Jobu Tupaki steps into the bagel’s void, only to step out of it and hug Evelyn. In reality, too, Joy hugs her mother, and the family has an emotional reconciliation.
‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ Ending Explained: What Is The Fate Of Evelyn And Her Laundromat?
Finally, after some days, the Wangs prepare to visit the IRS office once again to submit their tax papers. In their original reality, Waymond had told Deirdre about the difficult situation that he and Evelyn were in with regards to their failing marriage, and the officer had related to it since she herself had been hit by a divorce earlier in life. Instead of filing actions against Evelyn and the business, she had given the family one more week to submit correctly filled out papers. At present, Joy accompanies her parents and grandfather to the office building, and Becky is seen to drive them there, as she is now part of the family. As they walk in, Joy goes to the washroom, and Evelyn now closes up to Waymond and kisses him, for the first time in this universe after a long time, and their romance seems to be finally back. In Deirdre’s cubicle upstairs, the woman starts going over the tax forms and praises the family initially, but soon starts to find out more mistakes. Evelyn’s attention wanders off to her other selves in other universes, but she quickly brings herself back to her original reality and focuses on this life.
Whatever happens with Evelyn in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” ultimately brings her closer to everything around her in her present life, as she learns to appreciate herself and her family members. She realizes that owning up to and confronting her father about the unaddressed issues that she has against him works better with him than pretending that they do not exist. She understands that her daughter is, after all, very much like her own self, who is growing up at a different and perhaps more advanced time than her own, when her perceptions and understanding of the world are no longer very acceptable. Evelyn starts to see beyond the gender of her daughter’s lover, and she admits that she is happy that she has found someone calm and composed as her partner. She compares Becky’s nature to that of her own lover, Waymond, and realizes, perhaps most, how much she means to her husband and the immense help that he actually brings to her life. By the end, Evelyn learns to calmly accept and respect others’ feelings, too, something that she perhaps did not lack but was probably suppressed in her among all the stress and chaos of her ordinary daily life.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a 2022 Drama Science Fiction film written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.