THE TO DO LIST – Review

Me So Horny

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“Sittin’ at home with my dick on hard” are the first words you here as the titles roll for opening The To Do List. Using the 2 Live Crew classic “Me So Horny” lets the audience know that the movie means business, raunchy, dirty business. Anyone who was a teen in the late 80’s/early 90’s range will remember 2 Live Crew’s controversial album As Nasty As They Wanna Be as the first album to be ruled legally obscene. This designation meant that everyone had to hear it, c’mon, it’s been banned, it has to be great, right? I can still remember when a friend of mine got the tape, man we were fucking excited to hear it until we noticed that he got the “clean” version. WTF? Big letdown until his older brother was persuaded to head to Musicland and buy the right one. I can still remember listening to the songs and being confused as hell as to what they were talking about. The movie had me when I heard this memorable line:

Put your lips on my dick and suck my asshole too.

The To Do List is set in that magical pre-Internet world of 1993 in America. Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) is the class valedictorian of her Boise, Idaho high school. She is the model student and daughter, straight A’s, perfect attendance and heading off to a good college. The Brandy learns that being a sexual inexperienced virgin in college will be a huge setback for her. She needs to cram for her sex ed class which will begin the day she steps foot on campus. Brandy, being the industrious, hard-working student that she is, makes a To Do List of all of the sexual activities that she needs to learn and master before college.

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Brandy seeks advice from her sexually-advanced older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) who fills her in with her own unique brand of advice. Brandy receives full support from her two BFFs Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) who have been waiting for her to get her head out of books long enough to give a bj. Brandy starts first with her study buddy Cameron (Johnny Simmons) who is in full-on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose mode with baggy faux-silk shirt and floppy hairdo. Cameron was stuck in friend zone with Brandy, so he’s more than happy for a buttery hand-job in the cinema. Brandy is content to fool around with him although she has her sights set on the older hunk Rusty Waters (Scott Porter). Brandy, Cameron and Rusty are all lifeguards at the pool which is managed, using that word loosely, by old burnout Willy (Bill Hader).

The pool becomes Brandy’s sexual battleground as she is forced to endure many humiliations and insults on her summer-long journey to discover the Joys of Sex. The humiliations are bad too, especially the early reference to Caddyshack‘s infamous Baby Ruth scene takes the joke to its rather disgusting premise. Brandy, always the trooper, suffers it all with aplomb, meticulously keeping track on her list. She branches out to almost every available guy while fending off Cameron just long enough to lure in Rusty with her awkward charms. As the summer nears its end, Brandy frantically races to lose her virginity. The movie ends on a satisfying note, one that in it’s raunchy way is sweet & charming.

To Do List

The 1993 setting allows The To Do List plenty of easy gags as young people today get to laugh at how stupid their parent’s generation was. Look at their clothes! OMG they don’t even have cell phones or the internet? Ha ha ha. Call-waiting was a big deal? Ha ha ha, how stupid! Laugh it up young folks, there’s no possible way that iPhone that never leaves your hand will age, right? Looking back twenty years from now,  how do you think you will be looked at? Ah the arrogance of youth. As someone who graduated in the same year as Brandy I would like to applaud first-time feature film writer/director Maggie Carey for capturing the feel of the early 90’s without pandering to easy stereotypes.

The To Do List is a combination of the sweetness of American Pie with e the gross-out tactics of the Farrelly Brother’s gem There’s Something About Mary. The movie also flat-out refused to make every character completely sympathetic or unsympathetic, case-in-point being sister Amber and Willy. They are basically assholes to Brandy for most of the film yet they eventually help her out. The film didn’t fall back on the usual man-saves-the-day like Bridesmaids and many other movies for women that are saved by men.

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