[Opinion] ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is the movie this generation needed


Madeline Khoo

‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ featuring the Quan family and references found in the movie.

Madeline Khoo

[Spoilers follow]

I know what you’re thinking: “‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’? Is that even relevant anymore?” From the 11 Oscar nominations to featuring an incredible cast of Hollywood legends, this movie is a gem that I regret not watching sooner. I’m not exaggerating when I say I would sell my soul to be able to watch this movie again for the first time. 

If you haven’t watched this absolute masterpiece, ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ revolves around a Chinese-American immigrant woman named Evelyn Quan who is seen working and owning a laundromat while trying to prepare for her IRS audit. Within just a few minutes of this movie starting, the audience sees her family life crisis as her husband, Waymond, tries to break the news of divorce and her lesbian daughter, Joy, tries to free herself from the overbearing pressures of her mother. And all of this happens while Evelyn finds out that she has to save the multiverse from a bagel that sucks up all universes made by the antagonist, Jobu Topaki, who is the evil version of Joy from another universe. Sounds chaotic and like a fever dream, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a shot. 

Despite all the wacky special effects, a storyline of saving the universe from an everything bagel, and a universe with hotdogs as fingers, this movie is more than meets the eye as it contains deeper themes of intergenerational trauma, having a strained parent–child relationship, and the parallelism of learning to forgive and grow. 

Intergenerational Trauma 

As a Chinese-American who has had a tough relationship with family, I was personally struck by the theme of intergenerational trauma as we see the growth that the Quan family undergoes. Joy feels as though she has this pressure from Evelyn to be successful and more accomplished than the life she is currently living. Especially growing up in the midst of an Asian family, she feels as though her mother has always been disappointed in her life choices from coming out as lesbian to getting a tattoo. As for Evelyn herself, there are glimpses of flashbacks throughout the movie as she questions whether to let go like her father did to her or to hold on and allow Joy and herself to mend their broken relationship. 

Towards the end of the movie, there is a scene where Joy is about to be sucked into the bagel, but Evelyn holds on and Evelyn’s father holds on to both of them as a way to represent his growth and healing. The movie pans a horizontal shot of Joy to Evelyn to Evelyn’s father and shows that line of generations that share trauma as they begin to mend their flaws  (P.S. I cried so hard).

Strained Parent-Child Relationship

Between Jobu Topaki and the other versions of Evelyn, there is this recurring idea of having a broken mother-daughter relationship as the two struggle to come to terms. On one hand, Evelyn has the internal conflict with her own parent relationship, but on the other, Joy represents Generation Z and being able to express individuality and change that Evelyn finds hard to accept. This feeling of pressure and suffocation from their strained relationship can be seen from the old progress report cards and mistakes that Jobu explains as she puts all her hopes, desires, and failures in a single bagel that caves in and becomes absolutely nothing

Learning to Forgive and Grow 

As the three-part saga comes to an end, Evelyn makes amends before she is right back where she started: an IRS audit. There is a tiny detail in the beginning of the movie where Evelyn is in the first meeting and she isn’t listening but says yes as if she is. In the second meeting, however, when Evelyn loses focus and is asked if she is paying attention, she confesses that she isn’t and asks for it to be repeated. The parallelism from the beginning to the end of Evelyn being able to listen and take a step back shows the change and growth she undergoes throughout everything that has happened in comparison to the craziness that we see at the start. 

In all of its spontaneity, ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is the best movie I’ve ever watched that had me sobbing from start to end. Being able to have a story that I could so closely identify with made me realize the Asian representation that the entertainment industry is finally starting to make apparent. Especially within our current generation, this concept of generational trauma throughout families is being seen and finally able to be addressed.

Whether you’re old, young, or just bored on a Sunday, I absolutely 100% recommend watching this emotional roller coaster that will make you realize “every new discovery is just a reminder we’re all small and stupid.”