Set in 1993, Aubrey Plaza stars as Brandy Klark – the ultimate straight-A class valedictorian growing up in Boise. However, Brandy is starting to feel a bit embarrassed about her lack of knowledge and experience in the sexual realm.
Not one to back down from a challenge, and feeling the pressure from her friends to be “more worldly” before heading off to Georgetown in the fall, the young lady makes a list of sexual experiences she wishes to accomplish during the summer, and she is leaping into the task with gusto.
How far is Brandy willing to go?
Will emotions get in the way?
In The To Do List, Plaza proves she can handle heading up a movie and doing something different than playing the smoky, punk alt girl fantasy she plays on Parks and Recreation. Instead of letting Brandy fall into stereotype, she brings out the character’s nerdy side as the whole assignment becomes more like an intimidating science experiment which can be very analytical because of her studious nature. It’s a great way to keep Brandy a relatable and more innocent character.
Plus, writer/director Maggie Carey provides a movie that is outrageously frank and funny with some grossness, but she’s not exploitive about it. It feels more like a John Hughes movie than some wild American Pie romp. While certainly less innocent than a true 1993 effort of this sort would be, Carey does show these teens as the confused kids they really are as they struggle with sex, expectations, boundaries and maintaining some desirable reputation.
The supporting cast makes The To Do List one to watch. Clark Gregg is hilarious as the uptight Dad who doesn’t even want to believe his child has kissed a boy, let alone has the ability to deal with this kind of list, while Connie Britton is the perfect counter balance to Gregg as the mother who is more open about these issues and willing to help out the daughter with advice, whether it is wanted or not.
Then, Rachel Bilson is surprising as the bitchy older sister. She walks a fine line showing how her Amber wants to torture her younger sister, but also takes on a mentoring role when advice is needed from someone a little closer in age.
The To Do List has plenty of characters and other subplots that all could have provided more depth to the movie, but we never get to spend much time with them.
The To Do List is rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language – all involving teens