MOVIE OUTLET MALL
WARNING: SPOILERS (kind of). I reference things that happen in the movie without context, and I discuss the themes.
Before I say anything else, I need to say that this movie is not for everyone. As soon as the lights came on in the theater, a teenage (I think?) girl stood up and looked at who I can only assume was her dad and said, “That was the worst movie I have ever seen.” Her mom was already walking out, as if embarrassed her husband made her go see the movie. Probably not a movie to take the whole family to, so yeah, not for everyone, but the message this movie has is.
A Quick Plot Summary:
Evelyn’s (played by Michelle Yeoh--Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians) life is mundane and rather shitty. She lives in a tiny clutter-filled apartment with her husband (played by Ke Huy Quan--Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Goonies)—a relationship that is far from perfect—and elderly father (played by James Hong—Po’s dad in Kung Fu Panda). Her relationship with her daughter, Joy (played by Stephanie Hsu--The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), is strained, and to top it all off, their business is being audited by the IRS. Her life is turned completely upside down when her husband from a parallel universe informs her that a great evil, Jobu Tupaki, is coming for her and that she is the multiverse’s hope to defeat this evil by using the knowledge and skills of her infinite lives across the multiverse.
If I had to describe this movie in only two words, those words would be “bizarrely heartwarming.” These words are usually not put together, or at least I usually do not say them in the same sentence. But this movie is—first and foremost—bizarre. It’s full of bright costumes that intentionally clash as to stick out in the rather dull IRS building most of the movie takes place in. And at one point, a woman uses two dildos (Shout out the Demitri Martin sketch of how to pluralize the word. “Dildoes. But I'm not sure if that's right, it kinda looks like "dil does," and I hope I never have to write it again.”) to fight like a pair of nunchucks, and two men shove trophies up their buttholes. But amidst the chaos—the hot dog fingers and everything bagels—is a heartfelt message:
In a world where nothing matters: be kind, love, and enjoy the little things.
You don’t even have to be important or remarkable by any standard. In fact, the movie makes the point that the main character is so unremarkable—a complete failure—and yet, she saves the multiverse from destruction.
It was a message that resonated with me deeply. I thought about when my dad was diagnosed with cancer in January 2020—the first week of my last semester of law school. That week, I realized something: Nothing matters. A message which only seemed to get louder after graduation, and I started working a soulless lawyer job helping the rich get richer amidst a global pandemic, social injustice across the nation, and damning climate change reports. It's a message that has only become truer the last two years—with one caveat. Nothing matters except those few relationships with those we decide to call family, whether given to—or chosen by—us.
Yes, the movie has some weird visuals and perplexing sequences. So much so that 30 minutes in I was concerned that the level of weird was too much for my girlfriend of sevenish months. I mean, she knows I’m weird. You can’t go seven months of dating me and not know that. Pretty sure we’ve covered the topic rather thoroughly. And we’ve watched some weird stuff together (like Velocipastor), but we’ve never quite reached this level of eccentricity. In spite of it all, the relationship has seemingly survived it.
And at the end of this jarring journey is an emotional payoff so great that you forget all of—what at times seems like—the cacophony surrounding it, and the big picture comes into focus. And honestly, in a movie industry where there are relatively few new ideas, I wish more movies would be like this. I wish studios would take the gamble and understand that there is an audience for bizarre indie kung fu action movies that have a genuine heartfelt message to share.
We are all different. We have all suffered trauma. And we are all currently going through our own shit right now. And in the grand scheme of it all, none of it really matters. But we can be kind. We can love. And we can appreciate the few, small moments where it all seems to make sense.
Did I think I was going to get emotional watching a rock with googly eyes tumble off a cliff? No. Do I feel like I grew as a person because I did? Yes.
Three things I will never look at the same:
(1) Hot dogs
(2) Pet rocks (especially if they have googly eyes)
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