The To Do List





Directed By: Maggie Carey


Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Scott Porter, Alia Shawkat, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Connie Britton, and Clark Gregg

When I first heard of The To Do List, I was pretty skeptical.  After all, the 29 year-old Aubrey Plaza isn't the youngest actress in the world, and her time to portray 17 year-old teenage girls has mostly passed.  Before you shoot the messenger for daring to talk about a woman's age, I'm not just singling out Plaza.  I thought the same thing about Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect last year.  The 27 year-old isn't the youngest actress to be portraying a college freshman, and the situation will be exacerbated in the sequel in a couple of years.  All of that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Pitch Perfect last year, and the same can be said for The To Do List this year.

Brandy Clark (Plaza) is a testament to the fact that being smart isn't everything.  You have to enjoy life, especially when you're young.  This valedictorian of her high school class has all the book smarts in the world but knows nothing about the opposite sex.  She's a virgin.  Though her father Judge Clark (Clark Gregg) wants to keep Brandy in her shell until she's 40, her mother (Connie Britton) and her sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) prefer that she begin her sexual journey sooner rather than later.  With Brandy headed to a Mormon party on the night of her high school graduation, the judge seems to be getting his way.  When her friends Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) take her to a real party instead, things change for Brandy. 

At this party, Brandy gets drunk for the first time.  Her friends take her up to a bedroom in the house, and she has a surprise encounter with a guy she thinks is hot.  Blond pretty boy Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) mistakes Brandy for some other girl, and they nearly have sex until Brandy opens her mouth.  Both shamed, they go their separate ways just after reaching second base.  The next day, Brandy decides that she's going to begin her sexual journey now.  She puts together a sex manual with plenty of tasks for her to complete over the summer before she goes to Georgetown in the fall.  With all sorts of kinky things on this to-do list, Brandy intends to culminate the summer by redeeming herself and making sweet love to Rusty Waters.  Luckily, she's a newbie lifeguard at the pool where Rusty works.  Meanwhile, her longtime study buddy Cameron (Johnny Simmons) has enlisted the help of his friend Duffy (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to woo Brandy.

The To Do List is one riotous affair.  I honestly laughed my ass off during this movie.  Each and every one of the cast members delivers big laughs in this one. As our star Brandy Clark, Aubrey Plaza demonstrates that she's got the comedic chops to be the leading lady all by herself.  This isn't Safety Not Guaranteed or 10 Years where she is one of several stars.  Plaza is the star of this comedy and puts that on full display.  She steps away from her standard deadpan humor and branches out into raunchier territory.  As we watch Plaza's character Brandy kick off her sexual journey in the funniest way possible, this pays big dividends.

Plaza's supporting cast members are also hilarious on screen.  There are two standouts I'd like to mention in particular.  As her father Judge Clark, Clark Gregg steals every scene in which he appears, especially whenever he's talking about not doing the back door.  Gregg can do anything with a straight face and is perfect to play the overprotective dad in this comedy.  As Plaza's on-screen big sister Amber, Rachel Bilson is also a delight.  A diva with an attitude and plenty of sexual prowess, Bilson really serves as Plaza's antithesis on screen.  She spends most of her time verbally sparring with Plaza, and it's a pleasure to watch this intense sibling rivalry unfold.

What's great about The To Do List is that it's set in the 90s.  Director Maggie Carey takes us back to a time when desktops looked like ugly white monstrosities, Hilary Clinton was First Lady, and music was actually good.  What impressed me the most about this trip back in the time machine is the film's awesome soundtrack.  We're treated to tunes like Marky Mark's "Good Vibrations", Naughty by Nature's "O.P.P.", Salt-N-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex", and somehow even Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me".  Carey delivers a really strong soundtrack, and that's just a sample of the great music in this teen comedy.  When I wasn't laughing, I was tapping my feet and bobbing my head thanks to one great soundtrack.

As much as I've swooned over The To Do List, I'll be the first to admit that the film goes too far at times.  There are a few times where the movie‚Äôs raunchy humor wades into disgusting territory.  That being said, this doesn't change the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  I laughed and laughed and laughed, and that's what comedies are all about.  The To Do List gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.