Aubrey Plaza is best known for her deadpan intern role of April Ludgate in NBC’s Parks and Rec. In The To Do List, she plays a recent high school graduate, Brandy Klark, eager to unlock her sexuality before entering college. As the title suggests, Brandy comes up with a checklist of acts that go from first base to home run with everything in between (and probably more).
The good; The story is familiar. We’ve seen desperate teens frustrated about losing their virginity before. Aubrey Plaza’s character, Brandy, is the essentially Jim from American Pie. While some folks may not be able to relate to this adolescent scenario, we’re still treated to a great cast and cameo of folks that brings laughs to the table.
The To Do List really speaks to a generation that was born in the 80’s that recalls being in high school in the 90’s. The soundtrack and wardrobe conjure up thoughts of what I was doing at that age (spoiler alert: I related most to Johnny Simmons’ character, Cameron).
Unlike The Heat, The To Do List’s larger ensemble of comic actors keeps the laughs fresh and the movie never feels longer than it should be. At times, I was even hoping we’d get to see more of some characters (remember when DC Pierson was just on the screen but didn’t say anything?). It’s actually amazing how much comic talent is in this movie despite it’s relatively small budget, but what we’re seeing is actually just friends getting together to create something fun for all of us (Maggie Carey, Bill Hader’s wife, wrote and directed).
The bad; There’s not much to really say here except don’t watch this movie if you are easily offended. Imagine Jim’s sock scene from American Pie redone and more lude multiple times throughout the movie. I’m not sure what an extended/uncut version would bring, but at times the theatrical cut does straddle the fence of funny and gratuitous humor.
Also, if you can’t look past the fact that the age of many of the actors involved is far beyond the roles they are playing, you will really be distracted. At times I completely forgot that Brandy was on her way to college and just a 20-something trying to lose her virginity.
Overall it’s easy to compare this movie to the likes of American Pie and Superbad but it actually stands on its own because we’re seeing the story from an often underappreciated and overlooked female’s perspective.