What do the googly eyes and bagel mean in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’
(Credit: Netflix)


What do the googly eyes and bagel mean in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’

Everything Everywhere All At Once, the acclaimed film that dominated the 95th Academy Awards, is all set to arrive on Netflix US this February. However, the Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert film has been available to stream on the OTT platform for a while now, from Australia to Turkey.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is not just a visual spectacle but a profound exploration of life, multiversal, generational love, and the power of kindness. The film stars Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, and James Hong and is like a balm for the soul in a sci-fi format.

Kwan explained to the LA Times, “This is in some ways my way of saying thank you to my mom for constantly allowing space for the unexpected parts of us to exist in her worldview.”

At the heart of its stunning story, replete with hot dog hands and anthropomorphic raccoons, are two seemingly mundane objects with extraordinary significance—the bagel and googly eyes.

What does the everything bagel in Everything Everywhere All At Once mean?

The bagel, a recurring image in the film, serves as a metaphor for existential nihilism and depression. Joy’s alter ego, Jobu Tupaki, encapsulates her pain in a desire to implode the multiverse by walking into the black hole at the centre of the everything bagel. 

The black void in the centre of this bagel represents the film’s exploration of life’s apparent meaninglessness even, especially when it is surrounded by everything. The bagel evolves into a poignant manifestation of Joy’s perspective on life, reflecting her struggles with acceptance and the longing to connect with her mother.

The bagel becomes a tangible representation of Joy’s existential crisis. “When you stare at something for long enough, you can make anything meaningful,” noted Kwan in the same interview. “That’s a desperate, dangerous thing, but it’s also really beautiful. We need that right now because everyone is staring at everything and seeing no meaning at all. This movie’s almost us trying to fight that by saying, “Look, rocks can make you cry!” There’s beauty and meaning in everything. It can be butt plug trophies. It can be family drama in a laundromat. We’re putting them all on the same plane. There is no lowbrow or highbrow. It all exists and we have to be OK with that.”

What do the googly eyes in Everything Everywhere All At Once mean?

In stark contrast to the bagel’s pessimistic symbolism, Everything Everywhere All At Once introduces another metaphor—googly eyes. Waymond, Evelyn’s husband, playfully adds googly eyes to different things, which Evelyn initially considers silly and annoying. However, as the story unfolds, Evelyn embraces the googly eyes, and in the film’s climax, she fights for her daughter with a googly eye on her forehead.

These silly plastic orbs represent an optimistic perspective on life, offering a counterpoint to the bagel’s nihilism. Waymond, like Joy, acknowledges life’s complexity and uncertainty but chooses kindness and joyous silliness as a response. 

The simple act of adding googly eyes to objects becomes a metaphor for finding joy and levity in the midst of life’s challenges. Waymond’s philosophy that if nothing matters, one might as well be kind becomes a guiding principle for Evelyn as she defeats Jobu Tupaki’s army with acts of kindness.

The colour similarities between the bagel and googly eyes, both featuring black dots within a white void, link these seemingly unrelated objects further. The juxtaposition of these metaphors creates a visual dichotomy, which may seem trivial at first glance but represents the themes of the entire story beautifully.

You can stream Everything Everywhere All At Once on Netflix US starting February 23rd, 2024.