The To-Do List
Film Title: The To Do List
Director: Maggie Carey
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Scott Porter, Bill Hader
Running Time: 104 min
The To-Do List is set in 1993. And just in case you miss the relevant inter-title, the film is fit to burst with the flotsam and jetsam of the age: Eddie Vedder clones, ornately patterned man shirts, the Mac Classic Mark 2, smiley faces, scrunchies, call waiting, Wonderbras and 2 Live Crew on the soundtrack.
In keeping with that theme, the plot – a riff on American Pie – feels awfully 1990s. Brandy (Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza) is the overachieving class valedictorian of her high school in Boise, Idaho. After a drunken graduation party and some merciless teasing from her peers and older sister (Rachel Bilson), Brandy creates the titular catalogue of carnal acts, a sequence she hopes will (ahem) climax with her losing her virginity to floppy-haired lifeguard Rusty (Friday Night Lights’ Scott Porter). Inevitably, things don’t go according to plan, blah, blah, blah.
Writer-director Maggie Carey has done a solid job work-shopping this semi-autobiographical yarn into a smutty, jiz-splattered, sporadically funny comedy. The actors are all appealing in their own one-dimensional ways: fans of Plaza’s lovely deadpan in Parks and Safety Not Guaranteed will certainly warm to her lovely deadpan here.
Sadly, the film’s attempts to provide a female corrective to the virginity-losing subgenre of Porky’s and Superbad soon flounder in favour of the same old same old frat boy jokes: dad, like Eugene Levy before him, keeps walking in at the Wrong Moment; bras, like the ones worn by Barbara Windsor back in the day, fly off at the Worst Possible Time.
It ought to be a bigger, hairier Mean Girls. Yet ultimately, for all its posturing, The To-Do List has no more to say on the female perspective than a Tara Reid subplot from the American Pie sequence. Pity.