Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) has just graduated from high school where she excelled in every subject, except real-life sexual education. When her older sister tells her how important it is to be experienced, Brandy writes out a sex to do list for herself for the summer. Her friend Cameron might be the perfect guinea pig while she sets her sights on the popular and sexy Rusty Waters as the ultimate end goal. But once feelings get in the way, it becomes much harder for Brandy to check off the remaining items on her sex to do list.Written by
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Having the opportunity to attend an early screening of the To-Do List, I have come out with two minds on the movie. On the one hand, the To Do List has many qualities that could make it into a classic coming of age movie: an overachieving protagonist with a yearning to fill her sudden sexual deficiency before college; the supportive best friends who edge her on, the timid boy who attempts to cross over from being just a friend to being something more, etc. On the other hand though, is the feeling that this doesn't necessarily leave any memorable impression on the table with these elements put together. One thing I can say about this movie is that it has an exceptional flow.
Set in the year 1993, The To Do List centres on Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza), a model student with the grades, trophies, attendance and valedictorian badge to show for it. Although not clearly stated, it is implied that her lifestyle is that of a strict Mormon, with no exposure to the more vicarious side of teenage life. That is until, her best friends; Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) take her to a graduation party where she glimpses upon hunky college student Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) in his long haired, 90's style glory. A brief night on the wild side left unfinished sets in motion an adventure seeking the thrills of sexual experience; thus, Brandy Clark uses her trusty To-Do List to craft a step by step action guide to ultimately lose her virginity.
What makes The To Do List flow so well is the structure of the storytelling. Maggie Carey's decision to keep the teen angst drama to a minimum crafts a movie that flows like the To-Do List Brandy Clark is using; one scene to the next in an almost checklist-like fashion, creating a focused consistency in the movie's pace. Add onto that a plethora of 90's references and the audience can expect an enjoyable sequence of laughter throughout the movie.
The To Do List has a flair of Superbad to it, with help from Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bill Hader cast as supporting roles. That being said, this movie goes much farther in the sexual department. Brandy Clark's overachieving status as a perfectionist makes her romps just another thing to accomplish, as if handing in a book report. Aubrey Plaza, who I found out shares my birthday, does a stellar job of portraying my age group as an 18 year old, nerdy virgin. Even at 29, her petite features make her a great choice for this role.
Even though the pacing was a high point, some audience members may find themselves struggling to find a memorable impression within Brandy Clark's adventure from nerdy girl to sexually experienced woman. That being said, you'll probably find yourself enjoying The To Do List, and for those who grew up in the 90's, it'll be a worthwhile trip down memory lane.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Rated: R Run Time: 1 hr 50 mins
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