jonah wu
Published in
15 min readMay 31, 2022

(Spoilers ahead for Everything Everywhere All At Once.)

Jobu Tupaki, the villain of the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, is walking in a hallway through a cloud of confetti. She has pink hair and is wearing a white jump suit that is bedazzled with ornate designs.
Source: Deadline

It only took the first few lines of dialogue in Everything Everywhere All At Once for me to know — I was witnessing something very different here. Not only because of the film’s rollicking and inventive visuals, but because its story knew me so familiarly that it would thunder deeply within my soul for the days and weeks to come. The opening exchange of the movie between Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is conducted in a seamless mix of English and Mandarin, melding languages so easily that it becomes a single language: Chinglish. The sound of my childhood. Mandarin, I later joked with a friend, is my native tongue, but Chinglish is my mother tongue. Because, even though it’s been years since I’ve heard it, I understood every line Evelyn and Waymond spoke, fluently and without subtitles.

Everything Everywhere All At Once, I realized in this moment, was a homecoming.

A page break that looks like a line connecting two dots.

On a surface level, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a sci-fi film starring a Chinese American family. It’s tax season, and Evelyn and Waymond’s laundromat business is getting audited by the IRS. While trying to get her tax papers together, prep for a Lunar New Year party, and keep the laundromat in working order, Evelyn must also manage her aging father’s disapproval of how her life has turned out, and her own disapproval of how her daughter Joy’s life has turned out. It turns out that the juggling of these separate linear tasks is not so much of a metaphor in this movie, because another version of Waymond appears to tell Evelyn that she has the ability to jump across parallel universes, and that she must use this newfound power to defeat a great evil that threatens them all. There’s just one twist: the villain, Jobu Tupaki, is a multiverse, bizarro version of Joy — and suddenly, the movie is not just about the fate of the world, but of this family as well.

It’s a movie that will, in equal turns, shock you with its ribald humor and send you to tears in moments of raw tenderness. Much has been, and will continue to be…

jonah wu
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