This movie is too long, too busy, too fast in many places, and incoherent much of the time. It's a glorious mess.
I write 'glorious' because it's creative, funny, brave, and unpredictable. It starts out as a conventional drama about a harried laundromat owner's tax problems and devolves into an abstract rant against nihilism. There's a lot of room for fun in there, and they make use of a bit of it.
As the movie progresses, the visual style accelerates until the audience is subjected to a staccato barrage of imagery that races by so fast that it barely registers. In places, that's a smart fun way to do it, but after an hour and a half of this movie, you're still in for another forty minutes, and I felt every damn one.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
The conceit of the multiverse was fun to see. That's how far sci-fi has come. We can now throw the multiverse into a wide-release drama and everyone pretty much gets it. Their trick of transferring from one verse to another was weak as hell. They'd have someone do something wildly improbable and that would trigger a jump to another verse. I was willing to let it go, but then they got stupid with it. There were two separate characters that had to shove trophies up their rectums to jump verses, so we get these stylized shots of ardent fighters ass-slamming the trophies. It's sorta-kinda funny, but tonally it's at odds with telling a serious tale with serious consequences.
The notion of a character that had access to all their selves across the multiverse was also interesting. They chose to go to a dark place with it. The main character's daughter becomes a multiverse terror because with access to all her selves, she becomes indomitable. The downside is that with access to all that, she still can't find satisfaction. Having seen all things everywhere, all versions of herself, she becomes a nihilist. In none of those universes can she find a variation of herself worth living for--the very definition of nihilism.
The plot problems start when the mother acquires the same power as the daughter. Neither can defeat the other. It's the immovable object meeting the irresistible force. The upside of that problem is that for us to get resolution, there really must be a meeting of the minds, not subjugation. The downside is that the audience is subjected to a seemingly endless fight in which these two super-multi-verse mavens slap each other around across the multiverse. The notion of reaching a crescendo is achieved with pacing. The little set-tos come faster and faster with flashes of imagery that gets old in about ten seconds. Unfortunately it lasts like half an hour. It's maddening to sit through.
The ending was a cop-out to me. Mom and daughter tearfully make up, and the world resumes it's heartening, sloppy course. There's just enough time for mom to confront her own father with her daughter's homosexuality. It felt like a PC happy-horseshit add on to me. Ostensibly, her mother's ability to confront her father's bigotry is supposed to demonstrate growth on her part. To me, it was just pandering. They seemed to want to drop back into this one dreary existence and pretend that the wider multi-verse didn't exist. Their insistence in having these enlightened women stooping to address pedestrian bigotry was a statement to me of how far they haven't come. The mom's father is a shit that should be happily ignored. Where is the wisdom of letting the ignorance of mean people undermine one's sense of well being? You might not agree, but the larger point is that they had a decent resolution that they muddied with politics.
If we're going to address bigotry against gays, one of the best ways to do it is to let our gay characters in movies be gay without making a big deal out of it--because it isn't. The grandfather didn't care about the granddaughter's sex life. He was a misogynist. They have a scene of him disappointed at his child being a daughter, so the fact that his daughter's daughter is gay is a non-event to that asshole. They all lost him with their gender long before they developed a sexual orientation.
So, summing it up, we have a movie that has great bones, but was badly in need of a hard-nosed editor and a creative team less interested in farming for political brownie points at the expense of story. Someone could probably come along and edit that 139 minute monstrosity down to a brilliant 90 minute flick.
If you do watch this movie, I recommend intoxicants.
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