Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

– arguably this is just an inventive rehash of the same themes Hollywood blockbusters have been selling for years, pushing contemporary values like not taking for granted what you already have, learning to accept what you can’t change, fighting for what matters to you (but only in the name of love), seeking truth etc. While there’s nothing wrong with that messaging in and of itself, when it’s ploughing those furrows, this is artless, and could be any Marvel superhero flick or Disney Pixar animation, dialogue laden with cheese and cliché. But that didacticism underpins 90-99% of the movies that are produced these days, and this one is only really guilty of laying it on thick in the final act. For the most part, it is one of the most visually and comedically innovative, batshit crazy pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen. It embraces the surreal, the supernatural, the farcical, and does it with such derring-do and love for the silver screen. It is filled with nods and winks to the zeitgeist, tributes and pop culture references ranging from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars, from Ratatouille to The Matrix. It borrows building blocks from the giants of every genre then stands on the shoulders of those giants to build a physics defying tower worthy of Escher. Without resorting to drug trip comparisons, it’s hard to articulate just how far this film is willing to enter the bizarre. Where it falls short is in finding a substantive plot to match the genius of its visual creativity. Whatever it’s trying to say about nihilism, solipsism, maybe about mental illness and the nature of identity, when the fight sequences include dildos and butt plugs, characters have fat hot-dog fingers and the big bad enemy threatening to destroy everything in the multiverse is a giant black bagel, it’s hard not to see it as glib. In short, this is absolutely worth watching for the extraordinary absurdity and freneticism of the whole thing, but don’t expect to be affected on a deeper level. Smiley for effort and originality.

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