Everything Everywhere All At Once appears at first glance to be an action film about saving the multiverse, the visual spectacle contains multiple thematic layers that make the true Everything Everywhere All At Once meaning incredibly deep. The movie tells the story of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh — who won a Golden Globe for her performance), a middle-aged Chinese-American woman running a failing laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). At the same time, Everything Everywhere All At Once sees Evelyn being audited by the IRS, and failing at connecting with and fully accepting her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu).
Everything Everywhere All At Once was directed by Swiss Army Man duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as the Daniels). The pair entwined fantasy, comedy, family drama, and sci-fi in Everything Everywhere All At Once, meaning that it has an increasingly absurd, charming, and hilarious plot surrounding depressed villain Jobu Tupaki. The movie also uses Evelyn’s own struggle to find fulfillment in her unexciting life, and it’s here that much of Everything Everywhere All At Once’s meaning can be found. Here’s the real meaning of Everything Everywhere All At Once explained.
The Deeper Meaning Behind Everything Everywhere All At Once
Though never expressly stated, Everything Everywhere All At Once suggests that what makes life meaningful is the recognition that because there is no inherent meaning, all things and moments are equally meaningful. It turns out that Jobu Tupaki (a variant of Evelyn’s daughter Joy) doesn’t want to kill Evelyn, but was just seeking another person who can shift through the multiverse, largely out of hope for some different perspective to make sense or find some meaning in it all. Everything Everywhere All At Once is very thoughtful in its treatment of nihilism and depression, and it never gives an explicit answer to the problem of meaninglessness in an infinite universe. Instead, Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s meaning reveals itself to be a prolonged argument that, perhaps, the only meaning to be found in life is the people in it, and so the solution is to be present every moment possible.
Why Everything Everywhere All At Once Is Absurdly Funny
Everything Everywhere All At Once is best explained through its comedic scenes, as these drive its point home with its absurdist style and messaging. Absurdism as a philosophy accepts the lack of meaning in the world and defies it by embracing life anyway. In short, if nothing has meaning, everything is just as meaningful as anything else. The zany Everything Everywhere isn’t merely a multiversal action-comedy, but a deeply personal family drama. The multiversal trappings are set pieces meant to highlight the true message — family, love, and finding joy in one’s life are all that matter. With the movie releasing just before the MCUs Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, this inevitably drew comparisons between Everything Everywhere All At Once and Marvel’s multiverse. Inadvertently, the movie also shone a spotlight on just how lightly the MCU has scratched such a deeply promising concept at the beginning of its Multiverse Saga.
Ultimately, this film is a fresh amalgam of genres. Part action, part comedy, part drama, part think-piece, but the message never gets lost in the mix — the real meaning of Everything Everywhere All At Once is clear enough to be grasped. What the Daniels achieved with Everything Everywhere All At Once is conveying its meaning without the need to expressly state it. Yet, there is an even deeper layer to Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s meaning when examined from the perspective of its low-budget production.
The Deeper Cinematic Message In Everything Everywhere All At Once
Outside of the absurdism, Everything Everywhere All At Once is proof that it’s possible to deliver a visually complex, sumptuous, layered, and energetic story on quite a minimal budget. Indeed, a large part of Everything Everywhere All At Once’s release hype is the fact that the special effects team who knocked it out of the park is just composed of five people — who taught themselves to do the movie’s effects through YouTube tutorials. It’s a movie driven by stories, with its timing being so close to Doctor Strange 2 that even long-time Marvel viewers couldn’t help but realize just how much better the MCU should be. Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s meaning in terms of being a commentary on Hollywood is a sternly-worded message about how storytelling beats big budgets any time of the day — and not just in terms of delivering compelling cinema, but box office success as well.
Impressively, while Everything Everywhere All At Once’s $25 million budget and box office earnings of around $100 million is just pocket change to entities like Marvel and Disney, it’s still a massive and unprecedented success which proves that blockbusters don’t always need six-figure budgets. Moreover, with A-listers like Michelle Yeoh signing on for the low-budget production, the movie further shatters the illusion that Hollywood’s future is in big-budget films. Indeed, it’s undeniable that Everything Everywhere All At Once shook the movie industry (for the better) in more ways than one.
What The Everything Everywhere All At Once Directors Say About The Real Meaning
Everything Everywhere All At Once directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have also weighed in on the discussion about their runaway hit movie. In a previous interview, the Daniels revealed how they came up with the concept and plot for the film, as well as the philosophy behind Everything Everywhere All At Once’s multiverse. Back when Kwan first proposed his multiverse idea to Scheinert, the latter explained how he hated multiverses for making him feel nihilistic thoughts. However, Kwan fired back with a compromise that practically sums up Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s meaning as grasped by most audiences. During an interview with the Daniels, here’s what Kwan said to Scheinert (via Radio Times) regarding the latter’s concern for the meaninglessness of the multiverse:
“Let’s make a movie that’s nihilistic and acknowledges that!’ Then it just kind of bounced back and forth until we’re like, ‘Oh, the multiverse is the perfect metaphor for what it feels like to live right now.’ If we can explore all of our neuroses and fears through the multiverse, maybe we can learn something about ourselves. And so that was it, we’re just chasing questions when we’re making movies – we don’t know the answers until we show it in front of an audience sometimes.”
Navigating Everything Everywhere All At Once’s Complexity Landed Michelle Yeoh A Golden Globe
For her role as Evelyn Wong — the central character that ties together Everything Everywhere All At Once’s meaning — Michelle Yeoh took home her first Golden Globe win in 2023. Impressively, Yeoh won the 2023 Golden Globe Award for best actress in a musical/comedy movie, besting other formidable nominees like The Menu’s Anya Taylor-Joy, Babylon‘s Margot Robbie, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris‘ Lesley Manville, and Good Luck To You, Leo Grande‘s Emma Thompson. Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Yeoh’s historic Golden Globe win because of it, underscores how crucial it was to have a strong and engaging lead in a movie with such a complex concept and narrative.