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The To Do List

A Film Review

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Aubrey Plaza stars as...


...Brandy Klark, a graduating high school straight-A student with a matching straight-laced reputation. After four years of high school with the same overall-wearing, scrunchie-hairholding crowd of post-pubescent kids, Klark suddenly realizes that she's missed out on the proverbial "high school experience" including but not limited to (cover your ears) masturbation, making out, blow jobs, hand jobs, any other jobs, and, of course, the almighty act - sexual intercourse.

For the extensive list, see below.

So Brandy decides to create her own Rosetta Stone for sexual awakening, and she spends the summer before college teaching herself the do's and don't's of inter-human contact. She takes advantage of her friend Cameron (Johnny Simmons) to experiment, but her real wannabe conquest for the summer is Rusty Summers (Scott Porter), the quote-unquote hot blonde babe who lifeguards with her. He's in many ways the personality-ridden long-haired beach dude whose funniest scenes are a few slow motion dream sequences in which he is dancing. Not speaking.

Although, the film is set in 1993, so maybe the standard of beauty was lower bad pre-internet, cell phone days. Just a thought.

With the guidance of her two best friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), Brandy embarks on a spiritual journey, one that will forever change her life and teach her about who she really is.

That's the cheesy, sentimental summation of the film that runs more like bad (in a bad way) 80s comedy meets high-budget porno. No, the sex and other acts are not that graphic, but don't rush you to see this with your kids unless you are ready for a lot of questions in the car home.

If you want a sincere awakening, take the quiz on the movie's official website:


Rachel Bilson has momentarily left the wonderful land of the CW to star as Brandy's sister Amber, and SNL funny man Bill Hader is Willy, the manager of the public pool where Brandy lifeguards. Hader's role in this film feels nearly identical to characters we've seen him portray before (ahem Bobby in "Adventureland" ahem).

Neither character nor performance is revolutionary in any way. Hader comes on screen and delivers his lines with the faint sound of the drums queued up (baddum cha). Bilson offers little authenticity to the character, using the ditzy persona of past performances to cruise through the entire film; it almost becomes tedious to watch her deliver her lines.

Plaza does her distinguishing, dry-as-hell comedy schtick.


And it works... for the first few jokes. Then they dry up like a whore without lube, and the story takes very few expected turns choosing instead to veer towards cliche.

We aren't yearning for reality when we buy our ticket to these summer comedies. Instead, we want the unbelievable, the incredible, the imaginative. "The To Do List" brings none of these qualities to the table. Instead, we are left with a mediocre plot and punchlines that rely solely on bodily functions and/or promiscuous deeds, which can be funny when done right (see "Superbad" and "The Girl Next Door").

In no way is "The To Do List" revolutionizing the comedy format.

Judd Apatow. Your dirty, penis-shaped crown as the king of college humor remains steadfastly in place.

However, "The To Do List" is a light comedy I'm sure many teenage boys will enjoy. Going to a movie that will stimulate them like porn is surely better than accidentally downloading a virus onto their computer and/or waiting until their parents are out of earshot. Had the film developed the characters with depth, dimensionality and drive, perhaps this review would focus more on the feminist undertones of the female leads' abilities to rattle off sexual jargon and attain prowess in their sexual pursuits. Brandy's idol, after all, is Hillary Clinton. But alas, this point is poorly executed. It hardly leaves any impact.

Talking Points When Your Friends Ask if You’ve Seen It and What You Thought:

• Aubrey Plaza (she's also in "Parks and Recreation") is pretty good. She says dirty words with a completely straight face. It's funny.

• I learned what rim job and a pearl necklace are. I can't tell you in public, check them out on urban dictionary.

• Were people in high school really that concerned about having sex and giving blow jobs? I thought that's what college was for.

"The To Do List" is in theaters now.

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