When watching Aubrey Plaza eat shit serves as the highlight, you know you are watching The To Do List.
After graduating as high school valedictorian, Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) and her two best friends, Wendy (Sarah Steele) and Fiona (Alia Shawkat) go to a party to celebrate. While at the party, Brandy gets drunk for the first time. After a few hours of heavy drinking, Wendy and Fiona insist that Brandy lay down before she gets sick. Just a few moments later, Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) bursts into the room and starts making out with Brandy. In just a matter of moments, Rusty realizes that Brandy isn’t the girl that he was suppose to hook up with and goes off to find this other girl. This leaves Brandy questioning her lack of sexual experience and what she can do to change it. The very next day, Brandy, her sister Amber (Rachel Bilson), Wendy, and Fiona decide to create a “To Do List” of sexual experiences that Brandy must engage in before she heads off to college. It is now up to Brandy to spend her summer vacation finding guys that are willing to help her complete her “to do list” so she doesn’t end up as an experienced freshman.
I can honestly see how women will be able to appreciate certain elements of this film a lot more than most guys would. The To Do List is all about sexual discovery and empowerment from a female point-of-view. The lead character Brandy is extremely awkward but definitely relatable to how most girls feel when they first explore sex. I think that even though I didn’t like a lot of stuff that was being showcased within the film, I can see how females, especially young females can relate to certain elements discussed in this film. If this was solely all the To Do List was about I would simply just say “this isn’t a movie for me”, but it goes a lot further than just that.
Before I go any further, I need to point out that I am a big fan of Aubrey Plaza. I love her on Parks and Recreation and she was absolutely incredible in Safety Not Guaranteed. I personally watched this film for two reasons: the first is because I am a fan of her previous work and two, because I love movies that take place in the 80s and 90s. The To Do List takes place in 1993 and I totally dug the look and music in the film. I had no problem with the setting or music, but rather the story and how relentless the film was pushing its point onto the audience.
During the first 30 minutes of the To Do List, I was enjoying the experience. I found it entertaining watching this dorky girl try to be cool and sexy as a way to win over the guys. There were even moments where I actually laughed out loud including a really gross scene where Plaza eats a piece of shit out of a pool. No, doubt in my mind that it was incredibly infantile and part of me is ashamed that I laughed at it, but at the time it was funny. After the first 30 minutes, however, the film began to change gears and heavily push its message of completing this “to do list” by simply showcasing one awkward sexual gag after another.
I don’t have a problem with watching a comedy about sexual discovery, but the way that this film handled that topic is absolutely deplorable. I understand that as much as guys may or may not realize this, girls are just as sexual; if not even more sexual than they are. Most females begin exploring their sexuality long before most men and honestly have a lot more avenues to explore. The film handles this subject by showing it in such a one dimensional way which makes it incredibly insulting to the viewer.
Almost every character in the To Do List supports Brandy’s decision to make and complete this list. I am talking about her best friends to her very own mother. It is completely mind-boggling, how a girl like Brady could go from being so leery and cautious of everything to becoming a complete slut within a few short days. The simple idea that Brady is friends with Wendy and Fiona makes no sense at all since she was nothing like them. If you want to showcase teenage relationships, why not address the fact that as you grow up, friends grow a part. The reason why this film didn’t want to do that was because it was too preoccupied with repeating the same joke over and over again.
It should be noted that every single female character in the To Do List is obsessed with sex and all the guys are complete idiots. I honestly found it hard to watch this film simply because none of the characters seem to have a brain at all. Each of them lie, use, and do shitty things to one another and yet no one cares. The only two male characters that are different are Brandy’s father (Clark Gregg) and Brandy’s best guy friend, Cameron (Johnny Simmons). These two characters are mocked and portrayed like children throughout the story. Brandy’s father and Cameron are so over the top that they can’t ever be taken seriously even for a brief a second.
The small amount of conflict that takes place is handled in a way that it seems utterly pointless that it was even in the film in the first place. There is one predictable moment where Brandy fights with Fiona and Wendy. This scene in most 90s films would have served as the where the main character would learn her lesson, however, nothing of the sort occurs. The conflict is so incredibly half-assed and pointless to the film that it seems like director/writer Maggie Carey just threw it in as an attempt to add some substance, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work.
While I hated the same over the top sexual joke used over and over again, as well as the lack of depth in these characters, my biggest complaint of all is the film’s final message. The To Do List tells its audience that its ok to lie and use people. Not only that, it also states that it is completely fine to have as much sex with as many people as you want as long as you aren’t over the age of 30. In other words, this movie is telling both men and women that it is completely fine to whore yourself out. Go ahead and be a slut! I am not looking for a sexual comedy to have a after school special type message, or something deep, but seriously how can you end a film about exploiting people in such a positive light?
What the hell kind of person would create a film that lets people think that it is ok to let others use them for sex? I’m sorry but while I agree that sex the first time around isn’t this amazing event that we think it is when we are younger, there are repercussions. Maggie Carey tells a story of sexual discovery that lacks any sort of heart or brain. Its like we are watching a film about a bunch of up and coming prostitutes or people who lack any notion of common decency.
All in all, The To Do List is one long run on joke. While it might appeal more to females, I still think most will grow tired of the nonstop sexual jokes after the film’s first half. All the characters in this film are unlikable and as one dimensional as they come. No one seems to have a brain and more importantly there are no repercussions for any of the events that occur within this film. The To Do List is relentless in pushing its message onto the viewer and ends in a way that left me feeling disgusted about humanity rather than smiling. This is an awful film with an awful message for males and females alike. The only good thing to come out of this film is knowing that it bombed so I won’t have to sit through The To Do List 2: College Sex.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for The To Do List is a 2 out of 10.