Scrambled (2024)

‘Scrambled’ blends frozen eggs with warm hearts

“Scrambled” is a good egg, serving singleton gags sunny side up with a self-effacing demeanor that goes over easy compliments of writer-director-star Leah McKendrick. By the time she’s finished dishing out her observations on what it’s like to be a 34-year-old with maternal instincts but minus any matrimonial prospects, you’ll be impelled to offer a hug and a quiche.

OK, enough with the punny stuff. I swear. The more emphatic promise is made by McKendrick, a journey-woman actress who after suffering through a host of meager roles for more than a decade, has wisely chosen the DIY route with “Scrambled.” And, boy, does she come out of her shell (Oops, sorry!), dazzling in all facets as a multi-hyphenate revelation. It’s her acting, though, that’s most commanding.

As Nellie Robinson, a perennial bridesmaid with a faltering online jewelry business, the red-maned McKendrick strikes the perfect balance between lovable and satirical in presenting a woman held hostage by a sexist society constantly reminding her that her biological clock is ticking. To silence the Greek chorus, she reluctantly decides to drop $13,000 to have her eggs frozen.

Under the guidance of her quippy OB-GYN (a marvelous Feodor Chin), Nellie begins the painful process of injecting herself daily with fertility drugs that leave her abused abdomen black and blue. Worse, she must swear off intercourse and much of her hard-partying ways. Is all this hardship worth it to a woman who’s not even sure she wants to be a mother, now or ever?

You’re impressed by McKendrick’s ability to balance the slapstick with the honest emotions of a woman who’s suddenly questioning every decision she’s ever made, wondering how she ended up here, with no kids and no husband. Much like the Peter Pan at the heart of the 2000 classic “High Fidelity,” Nellie feels compelled to revisit her rogues’ gallery of exes one by one, from “The Prom King” to “The Nice Guy” to “The Cult Leader” and so on. These reunions provide the fuel for most of “Scrambled’s” comicality. Like Nellie, you question what it is she ever saw in these preening, vainglorious fools.

That self-deprecating humor, I believe, is the secret sauce of McKendrick’s writing. That, and her authenticity. Still, the jokes don’t always land and she fails at times to rein in her over-emoting co-stars. I’m talking to you, Clancy Brown and Andrew Santino, hamming it up as Nellie’s orthodox dad, Richard, and her goading, Mr. Moneybags brother, Jesse. It’s telling that despite being roughly the same age, Jesse is never held to the same scrutiny as Nellie.

It’s the old double standard, apparently still alive and well in 2024 Los Angeles, where it’s a given that guys will sleep around, sowing their wild oats, while ladies are implicitly expected to be married and pregnant.

That’s not the movie’s objective, but there are undertones. The real moral of this adorable coming-of-age story revolves around Nellie’s learning to believe in herself, her choices and whatever she chooses to be. And McKendrick accomplishes this with a rare display of charisma and charm that is so utterly appealing you can’t help but get caught up in Nellie’s madcap life. Clearly, McKendrick is clever and knows her way around a good yolk. I can’t wait to see what she hatches next.

Movie review


Rated: R for some drug use, language throughout, sexual content and nudity

Cast: Leah McKendrick, Clancy Brown, Ego Nwodim, Andrew Santino and Laura Ceron

Director: Leah McKendrick

Writer: Leah McKendrick

Runtime: 97 minutes

Where: In theaters

Grade: B

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