If you’re reading this column, you’ve likely already seen this movie. Not only have you seen this movie, but you’re also probably thinking it should win best picture, which I would argue is the right position. I would go as far as to say that if you’re putting money on the Oscars — not that I condone gambling —I would call this the betting favorite. In the ecosystem of cinema, especially in popular cinema, there have been tendencies in the recent past that stand as touchstones in the development of philosophical pop cinema. In the past, we’ve found these in “The Matrix” trilogy and “Inception.” I would throw this picture into that camp, and I feel that if you don’t see it that way, you probably will in about five years or so.
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is in a bit of a pickle. She has to juggle her laundromat, her incompetent husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), taking care of the father who abandoned her in Gong Gong (James Hong), preventing Gong Gong from finding out about Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and her girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel), all while the IRS and tax agent Deirdre Beaubierdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) are breathing down her neck. That is until Waymond puts some Bluetooth receivers in Evelyn’s ears, and asks her to put her shoes on the wrong feet in the elevator. Suddenly, she’s in two places at once, taking orders from Waymond to save the multiverse at large while Deirdre is lecturing her on business expenses. The mission: prevent the destruction of the multiverse by defeating rogue agent Jobu Tupaki. However, Jobu is more familiar to Evelyn than she would like them to be. Is Evelyn up to the challenge?
This film asks some really big questions. Does anything matter? How should we choose to treat people? Why is it that we’re anywhere at any given time? However, the surface of this film would suggest that it is more silly than introspective. Luckily, for us the audience, this film tackles both major schools of existential thought while also being about learning kung-fu by expressing your love to somebody you’re fighting. These questions wouldn’t be nearly as impactful as they are if it weren’t for the caliber of performances and the absurd but earnest direction. I think earnest is a really good word to describe this film. It’s earnest in its humor, its relationships, and even in its answers to those big questions the film asks. I’m really glad to see Ke Huy Quan make his first really big performance since “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Quan is the heart of this film, whether portraying a silly man who puts googly eyes on everything or being a Kyle Reese-esque savior from a different time. From the ground up, this is a film with a lot of soul and love. This is a movie that makes you feel the way a freshly baked cookie from grandma might feel.
Do I have anything to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? Not really. However, I will still say it, because it’s what I like to do — it’s one of the many things this film has taught me. This film is an invitation to do the things you like and to be with the people you love, and I can’t think of a better sentiment than that. There may be no reason why we’re anywhere, but while we’re here, let’s enjoy it.