Scrambled (2023) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Leah McKendrick and starring Leah McKendrick, Ego Nwodim, Laura Ceron, Clancy Brown, Mike Manning, Morgan Bradley, Max Adler, Henry Zebrowski, Mimi Kennedy, Rushi Kota, Brett Dier, Adam Rodriguez, Andrew Santino, Michael Welch, June Diane Raphael, Lindsey Morgan, Yvonne Strahovski and Khrystyne Haje.
For a woman, the whole concept of being settled in a relationship with a significant other in order to bring a life into this world is sort of old school nonsense. Yet, a woman does have a biological clock that ticks and for people who have friends that go down the traditional path of getting married and having a family, there is sometimes a bit of peer pressure for folks to just “settle down” and start a family whether they’re ready or not.
Leah McKendrick’s terrifically funny and moving film, Scrambled, is a welcome breath of fresh air because it refuses to give into the conventions of a movie similar to the one that McKendrick’s film is. No, scratch that. There have been plenty of romantic comedies before but never one like Scrambled. Though it’s about a woman who wants to find romance and is a comedy, McKendrick’s film is possibly the least romantic comedy I’ve ever seen. I don’t even know if you can call this movie a romantic comedy because it ultimately defies categorization with its smart lead character and very relatable situations.
McKendrick plays Nellie Robinson, a woman who has sex with a man in a raunchy scene within the first few minutes of the film. In another movie, that guy would be either the worst guy for Nellie or the best. But, in Scrambled, he’s just a guy. He’s one of many who Nellie tries to connect with over the course of the picture. As the film opens, Nellie’s friend, Sheila (the fun Edo Nwodim), calls on Nellie to see if she’s made the right choice in terms of getting married. Nellie is happy for Sheila but somehow knows that Sheila is probably settling. Nellie won’t tell Sheila that, though, because she’s a good friend.
Nellie soon comes to terms with the fact that she’s in her 30’s and won’t always have the opportunity to have a kid. She comes up with a plan to freeze her eggs so she can one day bring a life into the world. That’s rather expensive, though, as Nellie simply sells things on Etsy for a living. So, Nellie enlists help from her wealthy brother, Conor (Henry Zebrowski) who seems like a jerk but eventually gives in and supports her. As their dad, Richard, Clancy Brown gives an enjoyable performance as the aging father who wants to see Nellie settle down with a boyfriend or husband and have a kid the old-fashioned way. But, this is not an old-fashioned world nor is this an old-fashioned movie.
As Nellie scrapes the bottom of the romance barrel to try to find someone from her past who may have been a suitable romantic companion, she discovers how hard it is to connect with people who are even more eccentric than she appears to be. One deeply moving scene, though, has Nellie going to a support group for Sheila who doesn’t show up. So, Nellie tells the group about her life and gets to express herself in a way that members of the group connect to. Nellie is blunt but she’s also very, very easy to sympathize with. In fact, the audiences of this film should have no problem relating to her. Another great scene is when Nellie peeks in the window of “the one who got away.” That’s a very emotional scene here and is well directed, to be certain.
I guess my only real reservation with Scrambled is that one wonders why Nellie doesn’t try a new group of men other than those she associated with in the past. When she goes to a bar, she ends up talking to an old high school friend who turns out to be married. I felt that the viewer should have seen more of her trying to connect with new prospects rather than older ones. Nellie probably didn’t want to put in all the extra work which is certainly understandable.
Still, though, Scrambled is a creative and very unique comedy. It’s also a bit of a tearjerker as Nellie eventually gets the support of a nosy neighbor to help her with the final injection she needs to successfully freeze her eggs. The reason for the film’s success is definitely the crisp direction and wonderful performance by Leah McKendrick who keeps the movie all together in a fun, deep and refreshing way. McKendrick is likely to make it big as an actress if her splendid work here is any indication of what’s to come.
Scrambled is an assured outing helmed by a rising star who knows how people think and what they need to do in order to be happy. McKendrick makes the part she plays in the film a role only she could play. Nobody else could convince us of Nellie’s pains and passions and make audiences like her so much. She’s not always easy to listen to but a viewer will stick by Nellie’s side and hear what she has to say because Nellie almost always makes sense, for better or worse.
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