Scraps allows Chicago Improvisers to shine

Jo Scott and Emma Pope in Scraps.

Scraps stars a small cast of Chicago improv comedians in a film that makes one really examine how they feel about life when one of them cheats death.

Writer-director Daniel Shar assembles quite the ensemble comedy.  Just as we think we know these characters, everything changes in a matter of minutes.  It may be dark but it’s a really quick way to get to know what makes our characters tick.  Erin (Jo Scott) and Isaiah (Mike Brunlieb) are married while Erin’s sister Tanya (Emma Pope) is engaged to Matt (Damian Anaya).  Finally, we have the pizza guy, Gus (Jeff Murdoch).

The gist is is that Erin is hosting a dinner party after Tanya’s quick engagement to Matt.  Even though had only dated for some six weeks prior, some communities have a much shorter engagement window.  But I digress.  Erin wants everything to be perfect–going as far as ordering Dimo’s in the event that her own cooking is bad.  Tanya is sober as she quit drinking two months earlier.  As such, alcohol is off the menu.

All of the cast in Scraps are the consonant pros.  Even when the comedy turns dark, you can’t not turn away from the screen.  Your eyes don’t look away for a second because you’re hoping that things are able to turn around rather quickly.  Even amid all this darkness, Shar’s script gives us quite the comic relief in the form of Matt.  Matt’s such a nice guy that even when he thinks he does something wrong, he goes 200% in apologizing.  If this film were any longer, he’d be the guy leaving flowers at the door as a way of making it up.

The film’s low indie budget shows.  No, not by the cast.  We’ve got some of the best improvisers that Chicago has to offer in this film.  Granted, this is because so many leave for LA or NY but that’s beside the point altogether.  Two of them perform everyday (except Monday) as a part of The Second City Mainstage cast (Pope, Murdoch).  The budget shows in the sense that everything was filmed at producer Nicole Bishop’s place!  It’s well-shot by DP John Shaw, too.

If you’re familiar with Chicago improv, Jeff Murdoch is probably a household name.  To those that aren’t familiar with Murdoch, please watch this film for a brief introduction.  I should stress brief because this Chicago improv star is isn’t in the film all that long.  In spite of his limited appearance, he’s the type of comedian who makes those around him better. Murdoch plays it straight acting opposite Seriously Unprepared partner Jo Scott or even improviser Mike Brunlieb.

Scraps has a way of inspiring us to take advantage anytime we have an opportunity for a second chance to come our way.

CAST:  Jo Scott, Mike Brunlieb, Emma Pope, Damian Anaya, featuring Jeff Murdoch

Scraps is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.