#REVIEW: “THE TO DO LIST”
Taunted for being a Virgin, Class Valedictorian Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza) is determined to gain sexual experience before she heads off to College in the Fall. Infatuated with guitar-playing, muscle Hunk Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), Brandy is fixated on making him her ultimate sexual Conquest. Along the way, she gets the assistance of a few willing male Friends, each helping her cross items one-by-one off her “To Do List”.
Maggie Carey (Funny or Die) writes and directs this raunchy ’90s-set Coming of Age Comedy, which has rather big shoes to fill considering Teen Sex Comedies like Porky’s, American Pie or Easy A have had a thing or two to say about the matter – and saying it well. Although there are several dirty laughs dispersed throughout The To Do List, the Film reads more like a Pastiche of sex jokes than an actual journey for Brandy, which is unfortunate as Plaza really gives it her all here, absolutely engaging in all her naïve curiosity. By the time the climax comes (pardon the pun, really) we cannot help but feel slightly disengaged as one thing Carey fails to capture in Brandy‘s obsession, is a real sense of thrill and celebration along the way. What makes the Comedy odd is that ultimately it is a Movie obsessed with Sex, where we realize that Sex really isn’t everything. There are Conquests but no real sense of struggle which every great Story about Self-Discovery possesses.
Several of the talented Supporting Cast Members here really take a risk in the name of laughter including Rachel Bilson who is about as mean and vulgar as we’ve ever seen her as Brandy‘s Big Sister Amber. The awesome Bill Hader (Carey‘s Husband) stars as the flunky Manager of the Pool Park in which much of the Film is set, but like some of the other characters, is thinly-written, one-dimensional and dare I say it, unlikeable. Porter as Rusty, at first appears arrogant and pompous, but the tables somehow get turned the closer Brandy gets to completing her List, with gender norms flipped upside-down, the more she becomes sexually empowered. At once though, she disregards hastily the one Guy who actually cares about her in a believably lovestruck Cameron (Johnny Simmons).
The To Do List sets-out to be daring and kitschy and succeeds somewhat in that regard, achieving a fun nostalgia. It does however fall short of delivering the intense pleasure we hoped for. eOne Films releases on Friday, July 26, 2013.