By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Michelle Yeoh’s latest movie Everything Everywhere All at Once will take you literally everywhere, including an alternate universe.
The movie screened Sunday at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, the city the Chinese Malaysian actress says she considers home.
The science fiction-comedy opens this Friday in select theaters with a national rollout on April 8.
Stars Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu (Marvelous Ms. Maisel), and Ke Huy Quan (Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doon & Goonies) attended the San Francisco premiere along with writers/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert and producer Jonathan Wang.
James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Harry Shum Jr also play significant roles but did not appear at the premiere.
“It seems like I waited the last 37 years to make this film,” said Yeoh during a post-screening question and answer. “To not having to be glamourous all the time. They gave me the incredible opportunity to play this incredible character-being a woman who holds the family together.”
The movie centers around a tax accountant (Yeoh) who owns a laundromat with her husband (Quan) while trying to save her fractured relationship with her lesbian daughter (Hsu) and take care of her aging father (Hong).
Curtis plays an IRS auditor who threatens to take action against the laundry mat for some questionable deductions and poor record keeping. Shum Jr plays a chef.
For Hsu, the movie is about the power of not giving up.
“Evelyn (Yeoh’s character) never gives up. She’s a really strong power. I feel like Evelyn is really super and I admire her a lot.”
Audiences will glean all that from a movie that’s anything but traditional. The R-rated movie includes some adult humor and is not for children.
You can get an idea of the tone of Everything Everywhere when the stars and crew in attendance at the San Francisco premiere discussed the most challenging aspects of the movie.
For director Scheinert it was the opening mirror scene, for his fellow director Kwan it was getting the cultural aspects of the bookshelf right. Producer Wang chose the scene of Shum running with Yeoh on his back.
Hsu said working with dildos and pigs was quite an experience. Quan called being in a “raccooney” universe as well as the fanny pack fight scene the most challenging.
It was also one of the highlights of many in this film.
“I trained for weeks. I could never get it 100 percent right, but we didn’t have the luxury to keep doing it to get it perfect. I’m praying to Buddha, please let me get it right. I did it in the second take,” he said.
This was his first film appearance in two decades, a point not lost on the audience.
He said his return would not have been possible without the success of TV’s Fresh Off the Boat and film’s Crazy Rich Asians. He said seeing that success made him believe that he could return to film.
Kwan and Scheinert said they wrote six different drafts for this movie. If you get a chance to see it, you’ll understand some of the film’s complexities. It reminded me of the Matrix, in that you get the sense that every time you see it, you’ll see something different in the film.
Yeoh says she’s waited for her entire career for this opportunity.
“I really want to be thankful to these two evil geniuses (Kwan and Scheinert) who had the audacity to write a script like that for an older non-white woman,” she said to applause.
Everything Everywhere All at Once had its debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival and is being released by A24, the same company which released The Farewell.
Jana Monji will have a review of this film later this week.
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