Editor’s note: We almost never do this, but we ran a review of this movie in June of 2022, written by Patrick Heywood. While that review fills us in on what the movie is about and who is in it, this review updates us on its Oscar nominations and what it meant for Daniel Jung to watch it as an Asian American, the son of immigrants from Korea.
“Have you seen Everything Everywhere All at Once?”
“No, what’s it about?”
This is a hard question for some to answer, but not for me.
When my wife and I sat down to watch it, we shared a viewing experience like no other. Not because of the universe-jumping, or the chaotic pace, or the absurd multiverse storylines, but because of how much its plot hit home with our own experiences growing up in an Asian immigrant household. We laughed. We cried. We laughed so hard we cried. We cried so hard we laughed. And when the end credits rolled, we both looked at each other and knew that this movie spoke to us in a way that has never happened before and will probably only happen again a handful of times. Because of this experience, any misrepresentation, any outside criticism of it feels a little like a criticism against me personally. It’s hard for me to differentiate between the two.
That’s why it’s equally hard to hear how EEAAO has been described and/or received in some reviews. “What’s it about?” Some would correctly say it’s a multiverse science-fiction movie. But it’s more than that. Others have missed the mark completely. One reviewer said that EEAAO should have highlighted how much parents have sacrificed for their children, but instead does the opposite. The reviewer said something along the lines of EEAAO being a “millennial parental apology fantasy.” This misguided critique is a prime example of the need for diverse stories, created by diverse storytellers, for a diverse audience. Because as children of immigrant Asian parents, we do not need to be told how much our parents have sacrificed for us. That fact is not lost on us, ever. We haul it around with us all the time, sometimes like a badge of honor, sometimes like a familial scarlet letter. For better or worse, it's an integral part of our identity.
So … what’s it about?
For Asian Americans, EEAAO is simply about our collective immigrant family journey. It’s a movie that bridges generational divides in culture, language, values, and ideals and pushes our narrative toward healing, unity, self-awareness, and love. At its core, it’s a very common story, but EEAAO is our version of the story, told by our people, but in a way that is hopefully enjoyable for everyone.
This movie might not be easy to explain, but it has definitely hit a nerve with critics. It’s been nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh. (Paramount +, Hulu)
About the Author
Daniel Jung is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He lives in Northern California, where he serves as an associate pastor at Home of Christ in Cupertino.