I genuinely have no idea where to begin with this one.

MIchelle Yeoh puts in an extraordinary performance as Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American laundromat owner whose head seems to be filled with what her husband, Waymond (wonderfully played by Ke Huy Quan who you’ll remember as Short Round from Indiana Jones), calls hobbies she confuses with jobs. She has a problem seeing things through, perhaps scared of failure, perhaps scared of success. Unbeknownst to Evelyn, Waymond is plotting to divorce her and tensions are already at boiling points as the IRS are auditing their business, Evelyn’s granddad is now living with them, and her daughter, Joy (superbly portrayed by Stephanie Hsu), is gay which Evelyn flat out refuses to accept. 

The family head out to an audit meeting with IRS Inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra, played by an incredible Jamie Lee Curtis. There, there seems to be a glitch in the universe and Waymond becomes possessed by a version of himself from an alternate universe, warning Evelyn that the fate of the entire multiverse may well be in her hands, all the while as the IRS move closer to reclaiming her business, believing that they don’t have Evelyn’s full attention.

It’s a frenetic opening. In the initial scenes in the laundromat, as the family prepares for the Chinese New Year, conversations fly around in Chinese, English, amalgams of both, and it’s like the movie is trying to discombobulate the senses of the viewer in preparation for what’s about to happen next.

Because what happens next really is very difficult to explain. Alternate Waymond quickly explains verse-jumping to Evelyn, an ability to tap into any of the infinite alternate versions of herself and steal their skills and memories for the fight ahead. Evelyn’s attempts at this are hit and miss to begin with, introducing us to universes where people have hot dogs for fingers, and one where bludgeoning someone to death with sex toys is standard fayre.

At its heart, and in as few words as possible, it’s a martial arts movie. The fight sequences are breathtaking to watch, given that there are no rules here and Evelyn is as likely to become a master in an instant as a henchman is of turning to glitter. Hint: very likely. And it’s these punctuations of multiverse variables that keep everything fresh and exciting.

But the difference between this and a mindless romp is that the emotional heart of the movie beats so strongly. There’s a villain behind all this destruction, by the way most of it happens in the IRS office, there’s an evil force that we suspect we know who is out to destroy Evelyn, and so it comes as no surprise to learn who that is, and at this point, we begin to wonder exactly how much of this is just a hyper-exaggerated metaphor for appreciating life, accepting those around us, taking joy in those grains of pure happiness that life affords us.

Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels, it takes around two-and-a-half hours to figure all of this out, and if I’m honest, it began to feel it in the end. But as I exhaustedly made my way back to the car, an emotional wreck, and as I tried to confirm that I really had just watched one of the best movies I’ve ever seen or the worst, I realized how much it reminded me of Scott Pilgrim and how it dealt with its metaphors, and its existential message is one of hope and beauty, and it feels important, and a movie absolutely needed today, as it provides a very odd and difficult to describe reassurance. 

It’s going to be okay, folks.