Everything Everywhere All At Once directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert talk about their martial arts-sci-fi-action-comedy-drama family

Talking to Daniels via Zoom is a bit like being trapped in their new film. Ideas spring and roar, jokes fly, the sacred and the profane mingle with joy. Yet somehow it all made sense.

Their martial arts-sci-fi-action-comedy-family drama starring Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians) as Evelyn Wang, an immigrant from Hong Kong who lives in America in a cramped apartment above the laundry, she walks with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), who is exhausted by the relationship and considering divorce. He’s in a hurry, and panics about an imminent audit by the IRS (Jamie Lee Curtis plays a tax agent who suspects them of fraud). Their daughter, an ironic name, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), who is gay even though her mother denies this fact, is in a lot of pain.

At first, it seemed like it was an immigrant family comedy like Fresh From Ship, but when the Wang family visited the inconspicuous IRS office, things were thrown into chaos. Suddenly alternate versions of Evelyn, Waymond, Joy, and the others – versions born of paths taken in other existences, but not in this life – are swept up in an attempt to save the universe from the destructive power of the black bagel that devours all (think of it) as desperation to make meat … or dough).

Seriously, there are more ideas in this film than any other Hollywood combined.

But for all the dizzying orders of sci-fi action and physical comedy, Everything Everywhere At Once emerged from a very serious place.

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“I was raised very religiously, almost a fundamentalist Christian,” says Kwan, “and when I realized I no longer believed in it, it was like in the movie where Evelyn screams, she is experiencing every possible universe at the same time, she was right. -completely untethered and devoid of a moral center. In some ways, this film is a reaction to my loss of faith.”

Writers-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels.

Writers-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels.Credit:Tour show

Equally, however, this is a reaction to the internet age, the fact that we all now exist in a world where every bit of information is available, instantly, in an indistinguishable mass of things – truths, lies, memes, funny cat videos. – have the same value, or lack thereof.

“That’s not what our brains are meant to experience, and I think that’s why multiverse stories resonate,” Scheinert said. “It feels like life.”

For a reported budget of $US25 million ($33.5 million) – “we expect we have $25 million,” said Kwan – Everything Everywhere At Once is a great achievement. No wonder Marvel came up with an offer to work on a Disney+ series Loki (“We were so deep into this project,” Scheinert said. “So we were like, ‘Oh, sorry, we’ve been busy. Good luck’.”)

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They’re not averse to selling, to be exact. They just want to do it their way.

“I would find a way to steel myself through making a big studio film for Marvel if it meant we could save the world in a small way,” Kwan said.

“We’re not arthouse directors, we like to play in the middle,” added Scheinert. “We care about how many people want to see what we make, and are constantly trying to have the freedom to say the provocative things we think are worth saying, while not going out there so no one will watch this, or just preaching to others. choir.”

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The goal, he added, was “to make films that our parents might have challenged, but still enjoyed.”

If they want to make something that appeals to almost everyone, almost everywhere, at this point, I think they might do it.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is in theaters now.

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Email the author at kquinn@theage.com.au, or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin

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