Scrambled | Film Threat
Mar 21, 2023
SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! It’s so hard to pull off comedy, yet Leah McKendrick comes off as a shining star writing, directing, and starring in her feature film, Scrambled.
At the risk of sounding out of touch, Scrambled is one of those movies where I don’t exactly fall in the film’s demographic. Scrambled addresses the growing concern among thirty-something women caught at a crossroads between career over family and the biological certainty that if one doesn’t have a baby now, the chances of having a safe and healthy birth decrease over time.
Nellie (Leah McKendrick) is one such woman caught at that crossroads. She is somewhat of a mess, personally. Her single soul sister Sheila (Ego Nwodim) is pregnant and about to get married. Nellie also broke up with her longtime boyfriend (now engaged and pregnant), to the great disappointment of her father, Richard (Clancy Brown). Finally, Nellie’s life has not quite reached her full potential with her floundering Etsy jewelry business and her inability to find a lasting relationship in her series of one-night stands.
It’s here that Scrambled walks us down two paths. First, Nellie takes her biological clock into her own hands by undergoing the very expensive and painful process of freezing her eggs. Second, Nellie must put herself through an arduous series of injections and suffer through a doctor (Feodor Chin) with a very unusual bedside manner.
The other path has Nellie connecting with and sometimes hooking up with past boyfriends and lovers as a way to rekindle a relationship that never happened. We soon learn that Nellie has left behind a long trail of broken men or men who broke her. Let’s also not forget the one who got away.
Scrambled is one of those movies that you might be tempted to pass because “it’s not meant for me.” Look, I get that a story about a thirty-something harvesting her eggs is not exactly relatable to the “masses.” But if you’re a fan of good writing, funny writing, and insightful writing, I highly suggest giving Scrambled a go.
From a writing standpoint, Scrambled is top-notch. Nellie is a highly flawed character, and she definitely goes through a very steep character arc. Clearly, McKendrick put a lot of thought, and I’m sure a lot of herself into the role. Nellie has a lot to learn about not only the L.A. dating scene for women past her 20s, but she has to face the realities of the person she’s become to this point.
The dialogue feels authentic to this situation, as do the jokes…one-liners, observational humor, and a bit of sexy slapstick. Leah McKendrick knows smart, dark comedy. She uses some amazing symbolism with avocados that had the audience bursting with laughter. Yes, there is a let’s-wrap-up-the-sum-total-of-my-life speech at the end, yet the brilliant storytelling buys her the right to use this rom-com trope.
Lastly, Scrambled has some great supporting characters. It’s great to see Ego Nwodim plays a funny character that lasts longer than an SNL sketch. Now add the likes of Yvonne Strahovski, June Diane Raphael, Adam Rodriguez, Mimi Kennedy, Max Adler, and Harry “f*****g” Shum, Jr., and you’ve got yourself a packed movie.
I don’t usually like to call out studios, but Lionsgate is going to have an amazing year with Plane and John Wick 4. The beauty of this success is that Lionsgate will take risks with great emerging filmmakers like Leah McKendrick. Though the subject matter of Scrambled is very specific, it’s one of those stories that will touch a much bigger audience thanks to the brilliant storytelling of its writer, director, and star.
Scrambled premiered at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival.
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