Tag Archives: Daniels

All the Small Things

Everything Everywhere All at Once

by Hope Madden

The Daniels do not make ordinary films. In fact, they tend to make extraordinary films. While their charming 2016 fantasy Swiss Army Man slipped toward sentimentality, Daniel Scheinert’s remarkable 2019 solo follow up The Death of Dick Long did not.


Co-director Dan Kwan and his brand of sweet-natured lunacy are back for the duo’s big, big new effort Everything Everywhere All at Once. The result is an endlessly engaging, funny, tender, surprising, touching maelstrom of activity and emotion.

Michelle Yeoh is Evelyn Wang, and today is not her day. She has to meet an IRS auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis, priceless) about the lien on the coin laundromat she owns with her “silly husband” (Ke Huy Quan, nice to see you!). Meanwhile, she’s planning a big party for her judgmental curmudgeon of a father (James Hong, amazing). Instead of helping, her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is clearly planning to come out of the closet. Today, of all days.

And then the multiverse shows up.

This is a hard movie not to love.

The Daniels find the absurd in the ordinary, wring emotion from the most mundane moments, and manage to create something adorable even when really large items are entering or hanging from — I don’t even know how to end that sentence.

On an unrelated note (I swear to God, it’s unrelated), what they do with hotdogs is inspired.

At the heart of the insanity lurks a spot-on depiction of a midlife crisis, and Michelle Yeoh’s depiction of that crisis is revelatory. The formidable veteran brings physical prowess and nuanced drama to the screen, as you might expect. She’s also really funny, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough to hold this manic experience together. Yeoh convinces while Evelyn arcs as no character has arced before.

Curtis, Hong, Hsu and Quan all provide excellent support in role after role after role. The real stars are the Daniels, though, who borrow and recast and repurpose without even once delivering something derivative.

Day of the Dead

Swiss Army Man

by George Wolf

Makeshift toy boats drift out to sea, carrying cries for help ranging from “I don’t want to die alone” to “I’m so bored.” Swiss Army Man sets its off-kilter tone early, and then things get weird. Fart-powered motor boat weird.

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded alone on a deserted island, quite literally at the end of his rope. While contemplating his end, he spies a body (Daniel Radcliffe) in the surf and suddenly, Hank has a new friend. His name is Manny, and he’s dead.

Turns out Manny has plenty of uses (like the fart-powered motor boat thing) and before long the stranded pair is singing songs, putting on shows, and ruminating on reasons to live.

In their feature debut, the writer/director team of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka “Daniels”) crafts a wild, imaginative odyssey alive with color and wonderful set pieces. Swiss Army Man has abundant charm, occasional hilarity and a few moments of magic, but the Daniels directing vision is always two steps ahead of their scriptwriting depth.

Excessively revelatory music heralds layers of resonance that never come, and we settle instead for warmed over sentiments about disconnection and vulnerability. The approach is often just too cute for its own good, the Daniels seemingly confident their earnest outlandishness will win you over.

They’re pretty much right.

This is a film that will tweak your curiosity as often as it tests your patience, and the Birdman-style ending may leave you struggling to come up with any reaction other than “that was weird,” but you will be entertained.

Dano and Radcliffe complement each other well, both delivering committed performances that turn Hank and Manny into some sort of bizarro Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Sure, Swiss Army Man chases too many windmills, but I’m still anxious to see what Daniels might come up with next.