Directed by: Leah McKendrick
Premise: A thirty-something woman (Leah McKendrick) frets about being unmarried and childless. She sets out on the process of freezing her eggs while reevaluating her life.
What Works: Scrambled is a mostly effective mix of comedy and drama. This story is reminiscent of the Judd Apatow films of about twenty years ago, namely Knocked Up, in the way it mixes lewd humor with emotional honesty in a story of delayed maturity. Scrambled has plenty of raunchy comedy but the humor is rooted in very real anxiety. The story follows a woman whose biological clock is ticking and she feels pressure not only to reproduce but to make something of herself. There’s an obvious economic dimension to the film as well; McKendrick’s character eeks by with her online jewelry business while her friends live lives of material comfort and familial joy. She’s missing out on a whole web of adulthood and success and Scrambled vividly taps into the fear of failure and loneliness. McKendrick’s character is a mess and she keeps running back into the same situations with the same kinds of guys. The filmmakers find the humor in all of this but there’s a great deal of sadness to the film as well and Scrambled switches tones dramatically but deftly. In one scene the protagonist attends a meeting for women who have suffered miscarriages and the film switches from tragedy to awkward comedy to earnest drama in a way that shouldn’t work but does and the big swing by the filmmakers is impressive.
What Doesn’t: For some reason, the filmmakers of Scrambled frequently use a very shallow depth of field, meaning that there is a slim range in which subjects appear in focus. This is sometimes distracting with objects or people coming in and out of focus during the action. Scrambled is Leah McKendrick’s show: she’s the writer, director, and star of the movie. She does well in all three roles but the film comes across a little self-indulgent because of the story’s unwavering focus on McKendrick’s character. She gives herself multiple dramatic monologues in which she pontificates on being a woman and the challenges of contemporary life. The speeches become a bit much and undercut the reality of the rest of the movie. The film’s singular focus also reveals a lack of charity toward the other characters who smile and nod while McKendrick’s character goes on and on.
Bottom Line: Scrambled is very much a Millennial film. It is in touch with this particular cultural moment and speaks to the anxieties of people in early middle age. It’s funny but the comedy deals with some real subject matter. Leah McKendrick proves to be a promising filmmaker.
Episode: #984 (February 11, 2024)