The To Do List
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Class of ’93 valedictorian Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) wants to get “educated” before she goes off to college, so she assembles a “to do list” of all the sexual activities she missed out on in high school. Quickly realizing that she's way out of her league, Brandy solicits her best friends, older sister (Rachel Bilson) and burnt-out boss (Bill Hader) for their help and advice. As Brandy crams for her sexual finals, a supporting cast of horny misfits— an orally-challenged classmate (Donald Glover), a grunge-singing doofus (Andy Samberg) —eagerly offer their assistance and shocking mayhem ensues…
A winning lead performance by Aubrey Plaza and a script that doesn't treat its characters or its audience like morons help buoy director-writer Maggie Carey's The To Do List. The setting is mid-'90s Boise, Idaho, where Plaza's Brandy Klark is a model student at her high school: senior valedictorian, perfect grades, headed to Georgetown in the fall. She's also a bitchy, bossy busybody… and, worst of all, a virgin. Weary of the nonstop torrent of teasing her "condition" has inspired on the part of her classmates, friends, and older sister (Rachel Bilson), Brandy revises her to-do list until it consists solely of sexual acts, many of which she can't even define (most are also far too raunchy to print on a family website--what the movie lacks in nudity, it more than makes up for in profane language), that she plans to engage in before heading off to college. Her summer job as a lifeguard trainee at the local public pool provides plenty of candidates to help her on her quest; although she fully expects to be deflowered by the studly, guitar-playing Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), she's only too eager to use Cameron (Johnny Simmons), the one guy who actually cares about her, and various others to check off the other items on her list. Brandy approaches all of this as if it were a science project, with a combination of innocence and aggressiveness that results in multiple awkward situations. But this girl is no doormat; she's a doofus, but a smart one, and she handles all the hazing and humiliation with admirable aplomb. And therein lies the film's principal appeal. The script, while often amusing, doesn't condescend, and it even offers some genuine, if obvious, insight into high schoolers and the many problems and pressures they face. Heck, even Brandy's parents are treated with some dignity. Only a brief but superfluous subplot involving a rival swimming pool detracts from this surprisingly entertaining film. --Sam Graham
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Anyhow suddenly Brandy becomes convinced she has to learn all about sex because after all, college is really where boys and girls start seriously dating, and she’d better know what she’s doing in advance. So in her methodical way she compiles a list and starts trying to check the items off, over the course of the summer after graduation. Half the items on the list, she doesn’t even know the meaning of, and she has to look them up or have them explained to her.
Now I admit—I didn’t know the meaning of a few of the items either—though this still does not compare to the astonishing outburst of phraseology from the Indian salesman in “40 Year Old Virgin”—a list that I’ve vowed to go back to someday, watch the subtitles, write it down, and figure it all out, but I still haven’t done so. Nor is the movie in general either as funny or as interesting as that predecessor. I would describe it as “mildly amusing, and fairly harmless”
Really wished I could say something better, we did finish it to the end, but I kept checking to see how much time was left because it was just getting painful. Save your money for a better rental.