Scrambled- SXSW 2023 Review
March 13th, 2023
STARRING: LEAH MCKENDRICK, CLANCY BROWN, EGO NWODIM, ANDREW SANTINO
DIRECTED BY: LEAH MCKENDRICK
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
One of the running themes about Leah McKendrick’s Scrambled is that women can be treated like an avocado. “They’re ripe for one minute and then thrown in the trash.” It’s not a wrong sentiment, especially in Hollywood, where the history for women has been that roles would dry up the older they get. Now, what McKendrick is doing about it is, for lack of a better word, empowering. Scrambled is an incredibly personal story and still undeniably hilarious. It involves a woman in her mid-30’s, down on her luck, fed up with the baby showers, the bridesmaid dresses, and coming to the realization that she can do something about it. Scrambled is the arrival of one of the best voices in filmmaking today– Leah McKendrick.
What stands out is that Scrambled is never going to pull a punch. We meet Nellie Robinson preparing her bridesmaid entrance. Hand-jive? Sure. Coincidentally, bride Sheila (SNL’s Ego Nwodim) is having regrets about getting married and needs some friendly convincing by Nellie. She’s often the one for that, but never the bride, and the dating scene is a mess. When she receives news from her doctor that her eggs are diminishing, she decides to freeze them. Besides, her parents (Clancy Brown & Laura Ceron) keep pressuring her about grandchildren, brother Jesse (Andrew Santino) only likes to be a thorn in her side, and her boyfriend just broke up with her. Why should Nellie have to abide by the standards for women? She’s going to live on her own terms. It involves a little begging to help pay for the process but once she secures some family support– she’s all in on cold eggs.
In the beginning it seems like Scrambled might be a pop-art comedy, using big bubble letter graphics, with McKendrick highlighting sequences of dreadful dates. There’s the nice guy. The guy that just might be on probation. And the guy that could have been. She meets up with old high school fling Preston (Sterling Sulieman) and a nice night with him is just too good to be true. With each passing moment of frustration, Nellie goes further into her choice, revealing just how grueling that process is, and with that we see Nellie’s strength. Needles in her stomach, painful nights of sleep, tears streaming down her face, and a constant reminder from friends that she’s not in those societal groups. This is an empathetic and emotional story that can inspire us all. Scrambled opens a window to the world of women that all men must peek their heads into.
It’s also not all dour and sadness either. And the reason why a movie like this works so well is how punchy McKendrick’s script is. Her previous writing for M.F.A. was a revenge-horror and although this is a departure from that, McKendrick still keeps her feminist spirit. Plus, the comedy is gut bursting. It will earn comparisons to films such as Knocked Up, Trainwreck, or Bridesmaids– films about women pushing back against what the world expects of them. The dynamic between the family is a riot. We see a gentle side of Brown we never see enough of and the supporting work from Nwodim and Santino, are all separate personalities in McKendrick’s work to bounce off what her characters need.
This is ultimately the Leah McKendrick show. Unlike in M.F.A. where McKendrick wrote and co-starred, but didn’t direct, there is complete ownership on the material. She is the lead actor, the writer, the director, and it’s obvious that this is a labor of love. She removes the curtain, showing the world the bruises on her stomach, and delivers a vulnerable character that finds herself. Scrambled really is an original and wonderful film. It’s a coming-of-age story no matter the time and a fresh new voice for audiences to hear. Scrambled cracks open and reveals one of the best movies of 2023.
SCRAMBLED IS PLAYING AT THE 2O23 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL WITH A FINAL SCREENING MARCH 16TH, 2023 @8:45PM. CHECK BACK LATER FOR MORE INFORMATION.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady