A Chinese immigrant with a failing laundromat business and a rebellious daughter goes down the rabbit hole one day when her adoring but dull husband abruptly introduces her to a world (well worlds, actually: the multiverse) where she is tasked with nothing less than saving existence by learning about and connecting all the lives she could have led.
The incomparable Michelle Yeoh is among the few actors working today with the versatility, subtlety, and sheer strength to hold all these tangents and subplots together. Backing her up with Oscar-nom work is Ke Huy Quan, who you will probably best remember as the kid Short Round in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Stephanie Hsu shows remarkable range as the daughter, and rounding out the cast are the venerable James Hong and a hilarious Jamie Lee Curtis as a predatory, flabby IRS auditor. The director/writers are Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who collectively go by the moniker “Daniels.”
Okay, those are the basics. But I now face the daunting task of describing this complex, phantasmagorical fever dream of a movie, and it’s simply uncategorizable. A metaphysical, sci-fi, fantasy, chop-socky, absurdly comedic, bittersweet domestic drama featuring fanny-pack-fu and a running joke about butt plugs that still manages to remain a deeply personal story? Beyond me.
The only thing I’m sure of is that you should see this expectations-subverting celebration of human contradictions. Maybe twice, like I did. And in a theater with the biggest screen you can find. And maybe seat belts. (162 min)