In a post-Roe world, the concept of pro-choice might seem a bit crass to joke about. Films like Juno or Obvious Child make jokes but ultimately center on choices made during pregnancy. Writer, director, and star of Scambled, Leah McKendrick, takes a comedic look at an often ignored side of a pro-choice issue, egg freezing.
McKendrick plays Nellie, a 34-year-old Etsy store owner who is one year out of a tough breakup. She spends her time having dinner once a week with her mother (Laura Cerón), obnoxious and unsupportive father (Clancy Brown), and her annoying and rich brother (Andrew Santino). At the wedding of her best friend Shelia, (Ego Nwodim) Nellie speaks to Monroe (June Diane Raphael), a slightly older woman about her life. Initially envious of how Monroe got her career and family, she is quickly advised to freeze her eggs now as it looks like her love life is not in sync with her biological clock.
Getting the thousands of dollars it takes to harvest her eggs is no easy feat for Nellie who eventually gets the money from her brother in a painfully cringy scene at his office. This storyline along with the obligatory revisit with all her exes felt contrived and diverted the emotional and comedic point of the whole piece. But as the story goes on and you see the emotional and physical pain she is putting herself through, you not only fall in love with Nellie, but her journey feels more personal. McKendrick seems to hide behind crassness at the beginning of the film but learns to harness it into something powerful by the film’s end.
One thing I loved about Scrambled is that great character actors would pop in to do a scene or two and then you never see them again. Michael Welch plays a newly engaged and concerned buddy. Adam Rodriguez plays an old hookup. Yvonne Strahovski shows up as a smug and out-of-touch pregnant friend of Nellie’s. They somehow bring out more of McKendrick’s charm and serve as guides on her journey.
While Scrambled falters in the beginning, it turns into a charming, emotional, and personal film that is a joy to watch. Leah McKendrick is a force of nature on and off screen and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next. Lionsgate which is co-distributing the film with Roadside Attractions, doesn’t feel like the best fit for this film. I feel like a release on a streaming platform like Hulu would help it find its audience better, but whoever watches Scrambled is in for a treat.