Film, Print, Reviews September 17, 2013

Review: The To Do List

by Jay Wallace

the-to-do-list-poster01 was the last time a movie made you gag? For me, never. Until I saw The To-Do List, the crude romantic sex comedy from writer-director Maggie Carey. I won’t say what made me gag, but it was hilarious. And gross. It’s tangentially related to a Bill Murray movie.

Following a kegger where she meets college-age hunk Rusty Waters (Scott Porter of NBC’s Friday Night Lights), Brandy plots to lose her virginity to him and get caught up on all the sexual exploits she deems necessary before heading off to college. Her summer is spent burning through her to-do list with the same anal-retentiveness that’s marked her high school career, usually with embarrassing results and consequences for Brandy, her conquests and her friends.

Carey’s script, which is allegedly based on her own high school experiences, and the cast are what give this movie its punch. The movie is pretty much a teenage sex comedy from the perspective of a woman, which is something rarely see. Most are written for men with an emphasis on showing as much boobage as possible and not much else, including the collateral damage of a wanton pursuit of debauchery. The To-Do List flips that formula on it’s head, showing how Brandy’s treatment of handies and blowies like a homework assignment affects people around her, such as her best friends Fiona (Ali Shawkat), Wendy (Sarah Steele) and her friend-zoned study-buddy Cameron (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’s Johnny Simmons).

It should be noted that the film doesn’t demonize sex though, nor does it put the pursuit of boning on a pedestal. It treats sex like it’s not a big deal, which is rather notable for what is essentially a raunchy sex comedy.

Complementing Carey’s script is the stellar cast, a who’s who of up-and-coming comedic actors. Simmons’s pining, sensitive Cameron is the main male lead alongside Rusty, and he owns all the scenes he’s in. He plays well off of Plaza and Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays Cameron’s slightly dorkier friend Duffy who eventually gets to dry-hump Brandy.

Then there’s Porter as Rusty Waters. He’s pretty much eye candy for Plaza, but he also holds his own as Brandy’s pursuit of his junk produces more comedy for everyone around her. He’s definitely a douchebag, but doesn’t spend the whole movie letting his douche-flag fly.

Carey’s husband, Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader, plays Brandy’s boss at the local run-down pool, who sort-of acts as a voice of reason for her. Rounding out the cast are Community’s Donald Glover and SNL alumni Andy Samberg, both of whom aren’t given much to do but dominate the scenes they’re in.
Brandy’s two best friends spend much of the movie encouraging her to go all the way with her list and add some sweeter emotion when things hit the rocks. They are also the most foul-mouthed in the cast, with their discussions peppered with “fucks” and “fingerblasts.” The three of them are like the female equivalents of the Superbad trio. Though not flailing about as much, they’re still filthy as fuck.
If given the chance, try to catch The To-Do List in theaters, but if not, you probably won’t be disappointed when its out on DVD. I would not be surprised if it’s even filthier and funnier than the theatrical release. 9/10

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