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Review: The To Do List

Jul. 25, 2013by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: High-school nerd Brandy is about to head off to college with zero knowledge of the opposite sex... or sex in general. To prepare herself, she writes up a naughty list of sexual acts that must be completed before the summer is through and she's ready to embark on her new life.

REVIEW: Is it too late to give the idea of THE TO DO LIST to someone who knows what to do with it? The film, written and directed by Maggie Carey, has a "wait until you get a load of this" premise: a nerdy, prudish high school valedictorian named Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) is worried about entering college (and the real world in general) without a single idea of what sex is like. Not even kidding; not only is she a virgin, she seems completely baffled by the very concept itself. So she writes up a to-do list of various sexual exploits that she assumes will make her more worldly - and in the process, land the man of her dreams.

Sure, okay. It's far-out, but you can do a lot with it. Plenty of raunchy comedies have taken even more ridiculous premises and used them to build hilarity upon. If the execution is right, the audience will go along with just about anything. But THE TO DO LIST's execution is wrong, all wrong. And while it fumbles about, you're forced to think about the many plot inconsistencies and incredulities. Such as, why doesn't she just concentrate on having sex once, for god's sake! Does she have to subject herself to two-dozen nasty perversions over the course of three months to feel like she's fully prepared for college? No, don't want to bust my brain on a comedy like this, but if you're not going to bring the funny - and it doesn't - then my mind will wander.

So the more annoying and unfunny the THE TO DO LIST becomes, the more I think about its foolishness. The film strains hard to remind us time and time again that it's taking place in the early 90s, and yet there's no real reason for this, other than, A) so it can churn out a soundtrack of nostalgic 90s hits, and B) so Brandy can't easily access the sex-ed info she needs on the internet. But how then does she hear about all these terms like "rim job", "tea-bagging" and the like? Are we to believe that she has learned the names of these depraved sexual acts but then didn't manage to stumble upon any of the definitions? The 90s were not the 50s; I don't care how much of a prude you were, there's no high school student this completely and utterly ignorant. Not that it matters much, because we're never exactly sold on the time period anyway; my memory may not be the best, but I'm fairly sure no one was saying "hos before bros" - in 1993.

But even considering those issues, the most basic problem with the film is Brandy herself; the character is far from believable, but she's also not likable. Plaza has cultivated a sardonic/above-it-all personality thanks to her turns in FUNNY PEOPLE and "Parks and Recreation", and it works just fine in those situations, but a character like this has to seem genuinely naive, and Plaza's sarcastic demeanor is present in almost every sequence. The supporting cast is also a detriment to Plaza because everyone - from Connie Britton and Clark Gregg as her parents to Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele as her more knowledgeable friends - is more enjoyable to watch than she is. This is just a case of an actor being all wrong for a role, then doing nothing to convince us otherwise.

Brandy's baffling quest is also not the least bit worth our investment - are we really supposed to "root" for her to receive a pearl necklace? If she manages to check off all these sex acts, ultimately leading to her conquest of the hunk she desires, so what? And if she doesn't accomplish it all, so what then? If the movie had the nuts to go all the way with it, it would be fine; we'd have a trashy hard-R comedy with a plot that didn't really matter. But after hinting that all sorts of debauchery and insane sexual exploits are about to take place, THE TO-DO LIST never actually goes the extra mile. Imagine how disgustingly funny it could be if Brandy learned the hard way what "tea-bagging" is? The writer-director isn't willing to find out, and the film ultimately cops out by becoming yet another raunchy-but-with-a-heart-of-gold Apatow wannabe that already feels dated.

(Really bad joke alert!) Put this on your To Do list: Don't see THE TO DO LIST!

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:57AM on 07/26/2013

right

because no one would have sex with a girl that looked like aubrey plaza. it JUST WOULDN'T HAPPEN. poor thing.
because no one would have sex with a girl that looked like aubrey plaza. it JUST WOULDN'T HAPPEN. poor thing.
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7:56PM on 07/25/2013

Loved it

To be honest if you go into a movie with flaming pitchforks and a bad attitude you'll hate it. But I personally loved this movie, being a kid from the 90/"s made h movie so much more relatable. I thought this is the end was the funniest movie of the summer until now. Every one in the movie was Hillarious throughout the whole film and not overly corny. Don't let this bad review keep you away from reliving the 90s and laughing your ass off
To be honest if you go into a movie with flaming pitchforks and a bad attitude you'll hate it. But I personally loved this movie, being a kid from the 90/"s made h movie so much more relatable. I thought this is the end was the funniest movie of the summer until now. Every one in the movie was Hillarious throughout the whole film and not overly corny. Don't let this bad review keep you away from reliving the 90s and laughing your ass off
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2:11PM on 07/25/2013
A film where Aubrey Plaza is super dirty and does sex things is being trashed. What world am I living in...
(it's also getting good to decent reviews elsewhere for what its worth)
A film where Aubrey Plaza is super dirty and does sex things is being trashed. What world am I living in...
(it's also getting good to decent reviews elsewhere for what its worth)
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2:34PM on 07/25/2013
Well it's a comedy and apparently the comedy sucks...And decent reviews?...It only has 28 reviews on RottenTomatoes. It's no surprise that only those reviewers were able to, "allowed", to review the movie.
Well it's a comedy and apparently the comedy sucks...And decent reviews?...It only has 28 reviews on RottenTomatoes. It's no surprise that only those reviewers were able to, "allowed", to review the movie.
2:09PM on 07/25/2013
If you're going to do a coming-of-age sex romp comedy, but not show any actual sex/nudity...then what's the point?
If you're going to do a coming-of-age sex romp comedy, but not show any actual sex/nudity...then what's the point?
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1:26PM on 07/25/2013
I'd have Brandi Svenning from Mallrats instead. She'd suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
And what would her list be like really?
1-Anal
2-69
3-Blow and Dry
4-Cleveland Steamer
5-Dirty Sanchez
6-Rim Job
7-Fisting
8-Doubled Over
ETC
I'd have Brandi Svenning from Mallrats instead. She'd suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
And what would her list be like really?
1-Anal
2-69
3-Blow and Dry
4-Cleveland Steamer
5-Dirty Sanchez
6-Rim Job
7-Fisting
8-Doubled Over
ETC
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12:55PM on 07/25/2013
This looks like one of the most embarrassing movies of recent memory. Just a notch below Movie 43.
This looks like one of the most embarrassing movies of recent memory. Just a notch below Movie 43.
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1:31PM on 07/25/2013
I don't think any movie can be a notch below Movie 43.
I don't think any movie can be a notch below Movie 43.
12:18PM on 07/25/2013
I'll wait for the blu-ray
I'll wait for the blu-ray
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11:55AM on 07/25/2013
interesting, doing well on rotten tomatoes, not a fan of plaza but seems like it will be alright
interesting, doing well on rotten tomatoes, not a fan of plaza but seems like it will be alright
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12:12PM on 07/25/2013
There's only 19 reviews on RottenTomatoes. It's no surprise that only those reviewers were able to, "allowed", to review the movie.
There's only 19 reviews on RottenTomatoes. It's no surprise that only those reviewers were able to, "allowed", to review the movie.
7:23PM on 07/25/2013
fair point
fair point
+5
11:35AM on 07/25/2013

(Really Bad Joke Alert #2)

More like, The To DON'T List!

Ehh, ehh???
More like, The To DON'T List!

Ehh, ehh???
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11:48AM on 07/25/2013
What???...Your change of title should be, The Do Not List. You're title change makes no sense in a way.
What???...Your change of title should be, The Do Not List. You're title change makes no sense in a way.
2:43PM on 07/26/2013
*Your title change

You made me do this.
*Your title change

You made me do this.
11:15AM on 07/25/2013

"Brandy"?

Every "Brandy" I ever knew was a slut....how did they script writers come up with that name for their prude? That choice alone tells me all I need to know about this film.
Every "Brandy" I ever knew was a slut....how did they script writers come up with that name for their prude? That choice alone tells me all I need to know about this film.
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10:57AM on 07/25/2013
A film is usually DOA if it tries to pass off an inane premise as believable. I went into college a virgin, but wasn't so ass-stupid that I didn't know anything about sex. Nor was I afraid of it, nor did I feel it necessary to go on a perverse sexual odyssey in order to become a valuable human being. Dumb, dumb, DUMB.
A film is usually DOA if it tries to pass off an inane premise as believable. I went into college a virgin, but wasn't so ass-stupid that I didn't know anything about sex. Nor was I afraid of it, nor did I feel it necessary to go on a perverse sexual odyssey in order to become a valuable human being. Dumb, dumb, DUMB.
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9:55AM on 07/25/2013
All of the trailers made it look like it would be this year's Bucky Larson. I may see it on DVD as I love Aubrey Plaza, but I may just stick to Parks and Rec to get my fix of her!
All of the trailers made it look like it would be this year's Bucky Larson. I may see it on DVD as I love Aubrey Plaza, but I may just stick to Parks and Rec to get my fix of her!
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9:54AM on 07/25/2013

Bummer

I really liked the premise to the film. I was hoping for another genuinely funny female-driven movie.
I really liked the premise to the film. I was hoping for another genuinely funny female-driven movie.
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-1
5:41AM on 07/25/2013
That's too bad, because I am really rooting for Plaza. On top of being hot she's talented and she can do much better than this. Kind of glad I didn't go see this for free when I had the chance now. Sound like it would be a waste of time. That's too bad too, because Bill Hader looks hilarious in this.
That's too bad, because I am really rooting for Plaza. On top of being hot she's talented and she can do much better than this. Kind of glad I didn't go see this for free when I had the chance now. Sound like it would be a waste of time. That's too bad too, because Bill Hader looks hilarious in this.
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3:25AM on 07/25/2013
Film looked like garbage anyway.
Film looked like garbage anyway.
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3:05AM on 07/25/2013
I'm glad this got a bad review. The premise is insulting to anybody who has gone through puberty. Nobody has this kind of attitude towards sex and nobody of Aubry Plaza's one-note on-screen persona would for one second be believably this naive and desperate. Also, having explored a bit of sexual depravity in my own life, it's best to spread out the experiences anyway.
I'm glad this got a bad review. The premise is insulting to anybody who has gone through puberty. Nobody has this kind of attitude towards sex and nobody of Aubry Plaza's one-note on-screen persona would for one second be believably this naive and desperate. Also, having explored a bit of sexual depravity in my own life, it's best to spread out the experiences anyway.
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12:37AM on 07/25/2013
I'm glad you hated it. I thought it looked awful from the trailer that was shown on here, but sadly, and oddly, many schmoes on here thought it looked great....Seriously?!?!
It looks like a movie that the writers of the Scary Movies, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Not Another Teen Movie, and all the other crap, would write.
I'm glad you hated it. I thought it looked awful from the trailer that was shown on here, but sadly, and oddly, many schmoes on here thought it looked great....Seriously?!?!
It looks like a movie that the writers of the Scary Movies, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Not Another Teen Movie, and all the other crap, would write.
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3:02AM on 07/25/2013
You have a very appropriate username and reference to be the first commenter on this review.
You have a very appropriate username and reference to be the first commenter on this review.
11:24AM on 07/25/2013
Do you know what movie my username is from?
Do you know what movie my username is from?
2:08PM on 07/25/2013
The real question is: Does your speaker system go to 11?
The real question is: Does your speaker system go to 11?
5:30PM on 07/25/2013
Well my question to you is, how much more black can this be?...And the answer is none, none more black.
Well my question to you is, how much more black can this be?...And the answer is none, none more black.
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