The To Do List (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/10/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Enjoyable teen sex comedy that gains points for its female perspective and features both strong comic performances and a decent script, despite some of the gags being a bit hit-and-miss.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Maggie Carey, The To Do List is set in (pointedly pre-internet) 1993 Boise, Idaho and stars Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza as over-achieving teenager Brandy Klark, who graduates high school and belatedly realises she has prioritised academic success over a social life. Mocked by her friends for being a virgin and experiencing lust for the first time after a drunken encounter with school hunk Rusty (Scott Porter), Brandy decides to write a To Do list of sexual experiences to tick off before she heads off to college in the autumn.

Brandy treats the list like a homework assignment and sets about doing research by grilling her best friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) and her sexually experienced older sister (Rachel Bilson), as well as getting frank advice from her mother (Connie Britton). Meanwhile, her summer job at the local pool puts her in close proximity with both Rusty and her nice-guy best friend Cameron (Johnny Simmons), who's nursing a huge crush on her.

The Good
Aubrey Plaza is terrific as Brandy, dialling down the disdainful sarcasm of her usual screen persona in favour of a more sweetly naïve character, albeit one with a no-nonsense approach to sexual box-ticking. Similarly, Rachel Bilson is a lot of fun as Brandy's sweary older sister and there's strong comic support from seasoned performers like Bill Hader (as Brandy's loser boss at the pool), Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele (they make a good double act), Donald Glover and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (as horny co-workers who take advantage when they learn of Brandy's list), and Andy Samberg as a grunge clone rocker.

The film earns points for successfully presenting the teen sex comedy from the female point of view and also for not judging Brandy for her behaviour in the process; it also makes some sharply observed points about sex and intimacy. On top of that, the 90s period detail is often hilariously accurate, from the clothes and soundtrack choices to the references in the dialogue (if you were at university in 1992, you may find yourself with an unexpected nostalgia blast).

The Bad
It is fair to say that not all the jokes work, though the film is commendable for pushing certain boundaries without actually showing anything that would land it with an 18 rating. Fortunately, the gags come thick and fast, with an effective blend of both physical comedy and one-liners, so for every misjudged gross-out gag (one awful Caddyshack reference in particular), there's a decent joke not far behind.

Worth seeing?
The To Do List is an enjoyable losing-your-virginity comedy with a refreshing female perspective and a decent gag rate, even if not all of them hit the target. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

The To Do List (15)
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 03:16

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