The To-Do List

Posted July 26, 2013 by in


Total Score

2.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: teen sex-comedy
Director: Maggie Carey
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader
Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: 7/26/2013
Studio: 3 Arts Entertainment Mark Gordon Company, The
What We Thought

Funny enough to coast on humor alone, if barely.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Valedictorian Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) managed to get through high school without losing her V-card.  Her friends Fiona and Wendy (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) trick the good-girl into going to a kegger after graduation, where she lays eyes on hunky Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), and feels unadulterated lust for the time in her life.
     The next day, Brandy’s sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) explains that freshman year of college is a sexual pop-quiz, one for which Brandy is entirely unprepared for.  Never one to fail an exam, Brandy makes a To-Do List of every sex act in the book, and spends her summer checking off each item on the list, the last of which would be losing her V-card to Rusty.
     Meanwhile, Brandy works as a lifeguard at a public pool, managed by Willy (Bill Hader, husband of writer/director Maggie Carey), where Rusty just so happens to work.  Brandy’s high school study-buddy Cameron (Johnny Simmons) also works there, who has a thinly veiled crush on her.
     Andy Samberg makes a brief cameo as a touring rock musician, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse appears in a small role as a former classmate of Brandy’s, both of whom provide opportunities for Brandy to practice before the final exam, as it were.
     The To-Do List isn’t so much a story as a series of loosely linked sketches sharing the same, thinly written, forgettable characters.  They come and go when the sketch is over, disappearing as soon as they’ve served their purpose (ahem).  Most of the sketches center around Brandy’s attempts to check off each item on her list, with little sense of one scene causing the next; there’s too much going on across a dozen characters, yet little of it adds up to a plot.
     Admittedly, some of the sketches work.  Brandy’s awkwardness and inexperience make her scenes funny, as she fumbles her way through various sex-acts.  Her overly-cerebral approach to physical acts are a humorous mismatch, but her heartlessness and self-centeredness are off-putting; there’s little reason to cheer her on in her endeavor.  The To-Do List is funny enough to coast on humor alone, if barely.  To its credit, its best joke is at the climax, right where it should be—and it’s a good one.  However, the target audience, young women in their late-teens, will not get the 90’s references of the film’s setting.
     Performance-wise, Cameron overplays his love-stricken character, and Samberg’s goofiness belongs to another movie.  The tone is all-over the place, with the female performers acting one way, and the males acting another.  Plaza is a capable actress, getting the bulk of the film’s laughs, but she showed more of her potential in Safety Not Guaranteed, where she had more to do.
     After a release date that’s been pushed back more than once (not a good sign), The To-Do List opens opposite The Wolverine, obviously released as a cinema equivalent of television counter-programming. Which will women want to see? a film about how hard it is to get an unattached stud to sleep with them (right…), or a summer blockbuster featuring scenes of Hugh Jackman, who beefed-up for the role,  without a shirt.  Gee, I wonder.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Response