On top of juggling her father’s visit and the tax audit, Evelyn’s sullen daughter Joy wants to bring her girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel) to the party and her husband wants to talk about the state of their marriage. Just as Evelyn begins to feel overwhelmed by everything happening in her life she’s visited by another version of Waymond from what he calls the Alpha verse. Here humans have learned to “verse jump” and are threatened by an omniverse agent of chaos known as Jobu Tupaki. Soon, Evelyn is thrust into a universe-hopping adventure that has her questioning everything she thought she knew about her life, her failures, and her love for her family.
Most of the action is set in an IRS office building in Simi Valley (which, as a Californian, had me in stitches), where Evelyn must battle IRS agent Diedre (Jamie Lee Curtis, having the time of her life), a troop of security guards, and possibly everyone else she’s ever met. Production designer Jason Kisvarday crafts a seemingly endless cubicle-filled office where everything from the blade of a paper trimmer to a butt plug shaped auditor of the year awards become fair game in a battle to save the universe.
Editor Paul Rogers breakneck pace matches the script’s frenetic dialogue, with layers of universes simultaneously folding into each other while also propelling Evelyn’s internal journey. Match cuts seamlessly connect the universes together, while playful cuts help emphasize the humor at the heart of the film.
Born from choices both made and not made, each universe has a distinct look and feel, with winking film references ranging from “The Matrix” to “The Fall” to “2001: A Space Odyssey” to “In The Mood For Love” to “Ratatouille”. Even Michelle Yeoh’s own legacy finds its way into the film with loving callbacks to her Hong Kong action film days and the wuxia classic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The fight sequences, choreographed by Andy and Brian Le, have a ballatic beauty to them, wisely shot by cinematographer Larkin Seiple in wide shots allowing whole bodies to fill the frame.