Tag Archives: Ego Nwodim

Freeze Frame


by George Wolf

There’s an old adage about comedians making up jokes to hide real pain. It’s clear that for writer/director/star Leah McKendrick, there’s a very real struggle at the heart of Scrambled, and her film is better for not letting us forget that.

McKendrick plays Nellie, a 34 year-old perennial bridesmaid who clings to the “single bitches 4 life!” mantra, even as more members of her crew (including SNL’s Ego Nwodim and the always welcome June Diane Raphael) start settling down and getting pregnant.

Nellie has to face up to some harsh biological facts. Her mind and body can remain ready to mingle – but her fertility has a shelf life and the clock is ticking. So while she auditions a string of suitors from “The Nice Guy” to “The Prom King” to simply “Nope,” Nellie consults a amusingly deadpan doctor (Feodor Chin) about freezing her eggs.

Or, as Nellie’s Dad (a priceless Clancy Brown) calls it, “millennial feminist voodoo.”

McKendrick scores some big laughs with the family’s reaction to Nellie’s family planning, but this is an an issue that is very real for the first time feature director, and plenty of women like her. And beneath the jokes about Nellie’s dating habits and her parents’ longing for the return of her ex, McKendrick makes sure we see Nellie in fully formed terms.

She’s a grown ass woman choosing when and how she may want to have children. And in doing so, Nellie’s forced to navigate the social, physical, and financial barriers that can leave her feeling punished for embracing her own journey.

But Nellie moves forward – with both smiles and middle fingers. McKendrick’s recipe for Scrambled finds a nice balance of flavors, and we get a full-flavored dish of empowering humor.

Love In the Time of Breadsticks

Spin Me Round

by George Wolf

A madcap reminder that what seems too good to be true probably is, Spin Me Round finds Alison Brie and an engaging ensemble looking for love in the time of endless breadsticks.

Brie co-writes the screenplay and stars as Amber, the manager of the Bakersfield, CA branch of Tuscan Grove restaurants, an Olive Garden-type Italian chain. Single and not loving it, Amber’s luck turns when her supervisor (Lil’ Rel Howry) tells her she’s won a spot in the company’s “Exemplary Manager’s Program.” And that means a free trip to the Tuscan Grove Villa in Pisa, Italy!

Ciao, suckers, think of me when you’re rolling silverware!

Okay, so the hotel isn’t quite as nice as expected, and her fellow winning managers are a little eccentric (including the great Molly Shannon as a woman really needing the meds that were lost with her luggage), but Tuscan Grove CEO Nick Martucci (Alessandro Nivola) is here in person!

Nick’s suave and handsome, and when his assistant Cat (Aubrey Plaza, perfectly condescending but curiously underused) delivers an invite to Nick’s private yacht, it’s Amber’s head that starts swimming. Could her BFF’s (SNL’s Ego Nwodim) predictions of amore be coming true, or is this too much too soon?

Bet you can guess.

But director and co-writer Jeff Baena (The Little Hours, Horse Girl, the I Heart Huckabees screenplay) is eager to take the film off the expected rom-com path. Just when you think you’ve got it pegged, there’s wild boars, kidnapping, shady characters and plenty of suspicion.

Brie is always likable, and her wide-eyed and accommodating Amber is the perfect tour guide through this land of tonal shifts and total weirdos (including Fred Armisen, Ben Sinclair and Tim Heidecker). And while the film is never uproarious, it’s consistently amusing and never a bore.

But what’s the end game here? Pointing out how many rom-com’s find romance in sexual harassment? How day to day drudgery can easily breed unrealistic fantasy? The consistent appeal of bland comfort food?

There’s a dash of all that in Spin Me Round‘s entree. It’s light but filling, with a pleasing aftertaste. Just don’t spend too much time wondering what’s going on in the kitchen, and dig in.