North Texas Daily

Review: “The To Do List”

Review: “The To Do List”

Review: “The To Do List”
July 25
12:05 2013

Cole Clay / Intern

2.5 / 5

The trick to making a good raunchy movie is to strike a balance between comedy and gross film like “American Pie” did over a decade ago. When a movie doubles down on the gross out, and leaves out the comedy, like the “The To Do List,” it just leaves audiences caught up in a meaningless “sexcapade.”

Taking place in the summer of 1993, “The To Do List” tracks Brandy (Aubrey Plaza), a prudish bookworm, as she attempts to shake her uptight image by becoming more sexually experienced. In order to keep her goals on track Brandy creates a laundry list of acts she would like to participate in before starting college.

Along the way Brandy seeks advice from her two best and more experienced friends Wendy & Fiona (Alia Shawkat & Sarah Steele), her capricious older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) and her much too open minded mother (Connie Britton). Soon after, word gets out about Brandy’s awakening, which grabs the attention of any and every boy in her vicinity.

At this point, hilarity should ensue as we travel with Brandy on her quest, but the jumbled tone and one note jokes rarely tickle the funny bone. Her exploits get continuously more awkward, culminating with catching her father (Clark Gregg) in a compromising position. Every scene involving her exploits are repetitive and poorly executed which lacked any ambition to try something different.

Viewing the film from a female perspective is a bold choice that has a lot of potential to empower Plaza’s character, but instead the film makes a mockery of her for her lack of  sexual prowess.

One example is a troublesome scene where Brandy’s new found confidence prompts her to sport a bikini, which showed some positive character growth, only to have that revoked (almost instantaneously) and go for the obvious joke of her top coming off as she goes down the water slide. To add insult to injury her peers poke fun at the size of her bare chest.

There is a lot of talent that has gone to waste with this flick, mainly Gregg, whose talents as a character actor go untapped. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Donald Glover and Andy Samberg all show up, but the jokes they deliver are strained and evoke only a few genuine laughs.

Audience members who are familiar with the pre Facebook era of the 1990s will thoroughly enjoy the production design, filled with clothes and memorabilia that look like they belong on the set of “Full House”.

Each scene is covered with awesome props such as Pee Wee Herman dolls and Trapper Keepers among other bits of nostalgia. It is certainly an earnest attempt at capturing the time period, but it plays no part in the plot and only amounts to a novelty in the film.

The movie gets points for the cast of very talented actors (even though they were vastly underutilized) and the audacious take on women’s sexuality, but it suffers from lazy one-liner jokes that are ultimately too self indulging. “The To Do List” is worth a watch at some point, but don’t go rushing off to the theater.

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