In Theaters July 26th
Before VOD and a social life it was customary for pre-teens to immerse themselves in late night programs such as USA’s “Up All Night” and TBS’ “80’s Night,” (back when it was the “Superstation”) where campy teen movies introduced us to sex. These movies were never quality films in the sense that Peter Bogdanovich would comment on them during an AFI retrospective, but they entertained the hell out of us. The To Do List is reminiscent of such late night fare as The Last American Virgin and Porky’s, where horny teenagers in an attempt to be miserable like the rest of us, go on a sex quest. The sex movie has its formula— the characters don’t really care about who the sex is with as long as they get it, but there is always the Mt. Everest of pursuits.
In the case of The To Do List, Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation) is on such a mission and Rusty Waters (Scott Porter, Friday Night Lights) is her Mt. Everest. After being dragged to a graduation kegger Brandy, a valedictorian on her way to Georgetown, is appalled by the crude behavior displayed at the party until she gets a glimpse of Rusty and decides he will be the one to take her virginity. Like any good student Brandy needs to study for the test, she cannot go into unchartered territory and not be prepared. After tearing up her college to do list Brandy writes down all of the sexual scenarios she can think of. From dry humping to cunnilingus, Brandy is determined to get an A!
Considering the 80’s sex romp has been done countless times, it seems only natural that the filmmakers would go for an early 90’s nostalgic trip where ala The Wedding Singer, cultural references are used in an attempt to overshadow the bad writing. Although the film takes place in 1993 when hot pink and scrunches were on their way out for flannel and hacky sacks, the film ignores this and gets in as many 90’s references as the audience can bear. When most guys would be singing Pearl Jam or Nirvana at a party Rusty, Waters opts for “Pour Some Sugar on Me” (released in 1987), and the audience is bombarded with everything from step aerobics, and water beds to the inevitable “this is the 90’s George.” It also reminds us of a simpler time before cell phones when family members would listen in on your conversations with a boy and teenagers talked to each other in person.
The To Do List is a fun film with good performances particularly by Connie Britton, Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) and Rachel Bilson (there is a reason she is the only member of the OC that still has a career). SNL alums Bill Hader and Andy Samberg along with countless others give the mediocre script some life. This is the type of film that is so bad its good, but on the cusp of going back to bad again.