Derek Steffen’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wildly inventive. And also just wild.
Usually in a movie that’s as conceptually involved as this, the cleverness keeps you at a distance. Fortunately, the Daniels know the importance of grounding their craziness with some straightforward emotional truths: about family, about sacrifice, and about acceptance. Pixar is really good at this too. Maybe think of this as a Pixar film, the most out-there, hot-dogs-for-fingers Pixar film imaginable.
However, if I’m being honest, for the first half of the movie my reaction was, “I admire this more than I love it.” It tries so many things that I was more smiling at the audacity of it all than caught up in its center.
Then part two comes, and the emotional work put in early on pays off. The storytelling, in particular, is really impressive here. First, you think, “this is Michelle Yeoh’s movie, please shower her with all the awards.” Then the story reframes itself. This is Ke Huy Quan’s movie, please shower him with all the awards. And then again: This is Stephanie Hsu’s . . . And then there I was in the movie. This silly movie with all its strands and tangents, this eccentric tale that seemed destined to be nothing more than a novelty—somehow it all came together.
There are few things more satisfying than a movie that pieces itself together in the end—like there was a plan you didn’t see all along—and you’re left slumped in your seat saying, “They did it.”
They actually did it.