Client: Ke Huy Quan - Talent
The best multiverse movie of the year, Everything Everywhere All At Once, is finally streaming on VOD. That means cinephiles everywhere can finally bask in the weird, hotdog-fingered glow of the Daniels’ breakthrough action masterpiece. Folks everywhere can watch Michelle Yeoh deliver the performance of a lifetime, a wacky fight scene centered on a NSFW butt plug joke, and the agony and ecstasy of a world where we’re all just…rocks. But to me, the most exciting part of Everything Everywhere All At Once being available to stream is that people might finally get to see Indiana Jones and The Goonies alum Ke Huy Quan prove once and for all that he’s so much more than just “Short Round.” He’s a goddamn movie star.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is the ecstatic second film from writing and directing duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka Daniels. The movie follows Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese-American immigrant who is deeply unhappy with her life running a laundromat with husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). She is disappointed in everything from her all-too-American daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) to the fact that their American dream of self-sufficiency is under attack from an aggressive tax audit. Waymond is also unhappy, but more so in their strained, emotion-less marriage. During a trip to the IRS, Waymond’s body is overtaken by that of “Alpha Waymond,” a version of him from the multiverse who has been trying to reach Evelyn in the hopes that she, by channeling the experience of other Evelyns, can finally defeat a universe-destroying villain known as Jobu Tupaki. What follows is an exhilarating multiverse-hopping journey, showing us all the lives Evelyn could have lived, including various takes on Waymond.
Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s multiverse conceit allows global superstar Michelle Yeoh to call upon every underrated skill in her tool belt — from kung fu to comedy — but it also gives Ke Huy Quan a chance to steal the show for the first time since the 1980s. As a child, Quan was cast as Indiana Jones’s irrepressibly cheeky sidekick Short Round in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, which he followed up with the generation defining flick (and major Stranger Things template), The Goonies. It would have seemed that Quan had a rich career ahead of him, but it was not to be. As the actor grew up, he found acting opportunities for Asian Americans drying up and shifted his focus to working behind the scenes. According to an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, it was only after Quan saw the success of Crazy Rich Asians that he felt the itch to return to acting, and thank every god in the multiverse for that.
As Waymond, Quan has to flit between playing a sweet dork and a poised action hero, often in the middle of a tense or dramatic moment. The fact that he’s able to communicate to the audience whether he’s Alpha Waymond or regular old Waymond with just a glance is an utter masterclass in action. However that’s not the only place Quan gets to strut his stuff. In a multiverse where Evelyn turned down Waymond to become a kung fu superstar, the actor morphs into a slick Tony Leung type, oozing regret and longing with every stare. These three different Waymonds are distinct, yet connected by a genuine love for Evelyn. What Quan does is utterly mesmerizing.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is a triumph on so many levels. It is a science fiction spectacular, a deeply moving family drama, and an ode to sheer absurdity. It’s also proof positive that Hollywood should have Ke Huy Quan on speed dial. The actor fully sheds Data and Short Round in this film and proves he’s a fucking star.